I have a dream that my four little children will
one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their
skin, but by the content of their character.
Those were exciting times: times of hope, rocketing progress, moving towards the realization of the Constitution’s true meaning, moving forward, always forward—and upward.
The walls of many Black
homes displayed pictures of Jesus and Martin Luther King, in close proximity to
each other. Two saviors, one in the
Godly realm, the other in the human realm, but with the spirit of Godliness
within. We were secure in the knowledge that life, though not perfect for Black
Americans, was getting better and better.
The upward spiral was assured.
I’ve been to the mountaintop. . . And I’ve seen
the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know that
we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.
We could not predict the
groundswell of Americans holding onto the old ways. In 2019, many of us feared
that our country was sliding back down the mountainside. But we must not be
discouraged by the divisiveness of the past decade. We can invoke the words of
Martin Luther King and safeguard his dream.
Only in the darkness can
you see the stars.
As a young girl I saw
Martin as a hero for me and all Blacks in America. But as I matured into adulthood, I realized
that yes, Martin was an outstanding figure in Black history, but he transcended
race; he was a profound figure in American history. His message was universal
Many of our white
brothers . . . have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our
destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound
to our freedom.
We may have all come on
different ships, but we’re in the same boat now
My ancestors came to America
from Africa on slave ships, from Europe and the Caribbean via Ellis Island, and
some were already here when the first explorers landed and thought they had discovered a land that was not lost. Today the port of
entry may not be via ocean on a ship. It may be miles on foot, then crawling on
belly under a wire fence to freedom.
People fail to get along because they fear each
other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know
each other because they have not communicated with each other.
It’s been my experience that my adult friends from other ethnicities,
who do not embody prejudice and racism, were primarily raised as children with
meaningful friendships of other cultures. Diversity for them was the norm.
As we enter 2020 we can
affirm this spirit to leave divisiveness behind, and we can proactively reach
out to communicate with people who are different from us, both culturally and
Martin’s was not a wishy-washy sentimental philosophy. His was a strong
conviction, requiring that we back up our beliefs with action.
ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and
convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy, . . . There comes a time when one must
take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take
it because his conscience tells him it is right
The challenge for us is to do so without letting hatred into the mix.
I have decided to stick
with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
I, personally, have the
mark of black, white, brown, and red imprinted in my DNA. To hate anyone of a different ethnicity would
be an act of self-hatred. I have the
blood of Republicans and Democrats in my veins. To hate a member of either
party would be an act of self-hatred.
As we enter this new decade, let’s reflect on Dr. King’s lessons during his birthday month, and keep climbing.