Let’s travel back in decades to a time of segregation. A time where the term African American was unheard of because Blacks were not considered equal citizens. A time where the term Colored had nothing to do with Crayola, and Negro was the nice way of calling someone inferior, ignorant and uncivilized.
In this time, the possession of dark skin was thought to be a curse and mandated subjection to second class treatment and undeserving cruel punishments. When someone said KKK, they were not uttering extreme agreeance, but alluding to the white hooded night riders who terrorized neighborhoods in the name of white supremacy. Black leaders had to face the realization that they would by beat, jailed, executed and lynched for speaking their beliefs.
As I take this journey back to the 1950’s, a verse from the Negro spiritual comes to mind:
Sing a song full of the faith that the
dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
Of course at this moment I am not singing a song, yet I am doing another form of expression. I am blogging a blog to reflect on the journey my ancestors took to equality. I am blogging a blog to express gratitude to those leaders who stood in the face of adversity and fought so my generation can be the best we can be. I am blogging a blog to honor a great American Hero, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
King once said, “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” He did not let fear cause him to waiver in his actions, and made sure he lived a life of purpose. Armed with the teachings of Gandhi, he brought together a whole race of people and organized peaceful protests that achieved lasting results. Even though his journey was rough, he inspired his followers by saying, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”
He knew in order for things to get better, he and his people had to hold their heads high and work diligently without rest- despite any obstacles that appeared in their way.
Freedom, Respect, Equality: Three words with powerful connotations. King stood for these three things, and he conveyed them through a dream. School children have dressed up and recited the words from Kings 1963 speech which he delivered across the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington. We continue to draw inspiration in own lives from this vision. We still long for the world he described where the playing field is flattened and a person is judged by their actions as opposed to their looks.
We have come over a way that with tears have been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered
On this day, April 4, 43 years ago, King was assassinated on the balcony outside his Memphis hotel room. Many tears were shed to mourn the innocent man whose life was taken by someone whose hatred got the best of them. We as American’s have come a long way since then, but there is still a ways to go. We must continue to march, pressing toward the dream land our Hero told us about.
King’s inspiration drives us and his spirit directs our way. He lives on as more than just a memory, but as encouragement to overcome.