MLK Day (The Dream Lives On)

18 01 2013

I was born in 1954, lived in a “white” neighborhood, attended a “white” Catholic grade school, and a predominately “white” Catholic high school. Naturally, I had little exposure to the “black” culture, struggles, history, and social issues. You can tell by the “quotation marks” that I grew up in a segregated lifestyle of “us” and “them”. I was verbally taught the evils of prejudice, but in an unspoken way I was also taught that it was better not to mix the two cultures of “white” and “black”. When the civil rights movement started, Dr Martin Luther King was blamed for trying to upset the apple cart of segregated tranquility. When the protests and riots came to “their” side of town, I could see the smoke of burning buildings and feared that our house would soon be next. Dad would spend the night with us (my parents were divorced) to give security to his six children. I did not understand what was really going on and no one tried to explain it to me. Even though Dr King preached non violence, I only saw anger on both sides. I could sense a deepening chasm of hatred and distrust. I remember the rally in Washington when Dr King gave his “I have a Dream” speech, but it received little attention from the “white” community. When he was assassinated in that generation of high-profile assassinations, his death was considered both a tragedy and a relief. But the dream lived on.

While I was in the Navy, classes were conducted to ease racial tension among members of the military, but progress was slow. My eyes were starting to open to a bigger picture of what was going on in our nation. Unrest over the Vietnam War was on the front burner, but the dream lived on. Oh, the “N” word was still used often, but I was repulsed by the slur and the blind hatred that it represented.

When I trusted Christ as my Savior, I was once again thrown into a world of segregation. In books written by men of God, I read of the danger of swimming in the same swimming pool as Black people because of disease that could spread. I was taught by my pastor that Blacks were under the curse of Ham and that inter-racial marriage was an abomination. When the third Monday in January was designated as Martin Luther King Jr day, the Baptist school where my three children attended never had the day off. In private moments at church camp, one could still hear “N” jokes by fellow preachers, although I expressed my sentiments that they were neither funny nor Christian. Still, the dream lived on.

I am in awe of the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King. I read his sermons and find the fire and compassion of Jesus. I see him as a type of Moses leading his people from the bondage and hatred of segregation into the promised land of liberty and acceptance. (I hate the use of the word “Niggas” on Twitter by members of both races). Sad be the case, Sunday morning at 11am is still the most segregated hour of the week. I really hope that I could make a difference in that area. It has been an up hill battle in the struggle of equality and there is still ground to cover but progress was made. Perhaps I can say, progress was made in me. And the dream lives on.

Happy MLK Day.

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