Martin Luther King, Jr. A Man for the Times.
Today, January 15th would mark Martin Luther King´s 85th birthday, in our mind´s eye he is still the young man whose life ended much too soon. On Monday January 20, on what is now a Federal Holiday, the nation celebrates his teachings, his memory and his contributions to this great country of ours.
When I think of Martin E. Luther King, Jr., I cannot help but think of the time when he came of age before the eyes of a country that was convulsed by the issue of race equality, voter registration right and the question of how to best elevate the millions of black Americans yearning for a shot at the American Dream.
Many say that it was the death of the Kennedy´s and Martin Luther King that destroyed America´s age of innocence. I don´t know if that is right or not, but I am keenly aware of the senseless tragedies that engulfed our nation through during that painful period.
Television news coverage was still in its early infancy, but already the impact of television cameras were felt across every living room in the United States. Cops, batons and billy clubs became an all too familiar sight. Governor and city official blocking school entrances to black children became a painful reality to us all thanks to television. No longer did you need to be present to witness the news as it happened.
As a young man, I recall watching the South explode on the evening news as marches took place, crosses burned, Rosa Parks took a stand, churches burned, people were shot at and governors of southern states forgot that they were there to serve all citizens. This was certainly not an easy time in America.
As a young man, I recall vividly the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was struck down by a bullet aimed at a man who believed that more could be gained with honey than with vinegar.
As a young man, I remember Bobby Kennedy at Mr. King´s funeral without knowledge of his own tragedy still to come.
As a young man, I recall the South convulsing in fear and disbelief at the tragedy of it all. The widow and the small children on our TV screens again.
Today, as a grown man, I wonder what Martin Luther King, Jr. would have accomplished with the sum total of his life is a question that will never be answered. We do know that he helped bring America across a dark threshold in our history with his call for peaceful demonstration and his calm demeanor.
May we all join hands and thank him, for it is as a result of his teachings that have some measure of peace in our racial interactions as a people. I do not deny that there much still to be done, but Mr. King taught us that goodwill, perseverance and determination can move mountains.
His dream is alive and our children and their children will hear freedom ring just as he proclaimed it would do.