I remember being a child and first appreciating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There was a tribute on the TV honoring the good doctor, and I watched it while my mom cooked dinner. We had been learning about him in school, and I was moved at the fact that this great man gave his life to allow a little black boy like me the freedom that I took for granted. Someone got on stage, or maybe it was a gospel group, I can’t recall, but they sang a stirring tribute, one of those old gospel hymnals I could remember hearing in church. I burst out in tears at the sight. It was like an older, wiser family member had passed and I couldn’t help but become emotional. I remember my mother rushing out, asking “What’s wrong? What happened?” All I could say through my tears was, “He’s dead…I wish Martin Luther King wasn’t dead!”
Now that I am older, I still harbor a deep respect for the good doctor. I also have respect for his rival in the Civil Rights movement, the ‘By any means necessary’ ying to his ‘I have a dream’ yang Malcolm ‘X’ Little, but I always felt a closer kinship to Dr. King. Being that I am a bit more laid back, peaceful, a bit happy go lucky guy, I could appreciate the peaceful condemnation that Dr. King exhibited to a masterful degree. While the racists of the deep, south tried to use religion as a base for their hatefulness, Dr. King was able to denounce their twisting of faith. How could such a loving God, encourage such wraith onto a non-violent protest for equal, human rights? He was a genius leader that upheld peace and civility, it’s sad that there can’t be more like him.
Now we are in an age when the first black president is preparing to step down from two stints in the white-house. There are more black millionaires than ever, and the nation as a whole is shifting towards the minorities being the majority. With that said, poverty is ever present, and we have become so numb to violence that any news of mass killings becomes more of a debate about gun control than a mourning of the lives lost. Would Dr. King be proud of the present days he helped usher in almost fifty years since his passing? Or would he wonder why the leaders of today are more interested in bickering over politics, and less focused on bringing the nation its ‘American Dream’?