Even though Martin Luther King, Jr. s birthday was last Wednesday, today the country celebrates the following Monday as the day to honor his legacy. This past August, it was the 50th anniversary of the “I have a dream” speech during the March on Washington rally. It was that event that seems to have gotten the wheels of government turning toward addressing some long standing problems with race relations in our country. The Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Acts bill soon followed, followed by MLK’s focusing on economic justice in his final 5 years.
I was 12 years old, watching TV with my Dad when the news broke in with the report that MLK had died as a result of an assasination. I was living in Beckley, West Virginia at the time, in 6th grade. I remember the reaction many people there had was one of “Uh-oh”, as in, “there’s gonna be trouble now”. I didnt think much of it at the time, but I later recalled those reactions and was struck at how the focus was on a possible backlash/protest , and hardly any sense of what had just been lost; what MLK could have achieved with 30 0r 40 more years to challenge this country regarding its commitments to justice.
Do you remember where you were and what reactions around you were when you heard about MLK’s death?
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"When you get real old, honey, you realize there are certain things that just don't matter anymore. You lay it all on the table. There's a saying: Only little children and old folks tell the truth."Sarah Louise Delany
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