Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Date: Sat 1/18/2003 5:10 AM
Last Thursday night, I attended the Dr. Martin Luther King commemorative program at the University. As I looked over the almost all African-American audience with an occasional speckle of white, I thought how wrong it is to think that the celebration of Dr. King's accomplishments is completely an African-American thing. It is not. It's a completely American thing. He is a national hero. And time has not passed that he is not a vivid personal hero for many of us. Either way, we all must be grateful Dr. King walked this land. It is because of him. possibly more than any other person in the 20th century, that we are a better nation and closer to his dream of living the principled Jeffersonian ideals written in the Declaration of Independence.
While I listened to the words and melodies of the celebration, I was flooded by the memories of sounds and sights of the civil rights movement in the '60s and '70s in which I participated and which remain personally vivid to me.
And, in the twilight of my years, if my grandchildren ask me, "Grandpa, what did you do in the civil rights movement?" I will think of all that I did do and all that I did not do.
I will think of Dr. King and all that he did. I will think of his uncommon strength, of his uncommon courage, and of his uncommon nobility of purpose to bring a common American vision closer to reality. He dreamt of social justice as so many of us do, talked of human dignity as so many of us do. He went to the front lines, time and time and time again, as so few of us do. And, I will think of all that I did do and all that I did not do.
I will think of the great challenges he met and challenged us to meet. I will think of his unrelenting pursuit of non-violence and how he rose powerfully above Black militancy. I will think of his pursuit of non-violence and how he steadfastly held his course in the face of church bombings, attacking police dogs, dispersing fire hoses, burning crosses, shots in the night, exploding bombs, the killing of civil rights workers, hooded klansmen, screaming mobs, restricted neighborhoods, school children escorted to class by armed soldiers, student boycotts, police clubs, travesties of justice, nation-wide racial bigotry that took now unimaginable forms, White Citizen Councils, resistant state officials, and scheming federal officials.
I will think of the risks he took, the times attempts were made to destroy his reputation, the times he was jailed, the times his life was threatened, and the time of his murder at the age of 39. And, I will think of all that I did do and all that I did not do.
I will think how far we have come and how much institutional racism has been eliminated because of Dr. King. I will think how far we have to go and how much racism remains in our hearts because of each one of us.
I will think of all of this and much more. And doubtlessly, my eyes will swell up, and I will sadly answer my grandchildrens' question, "Not enough. Not enough."
Make it a good day. --Louis-- Louis Schmier email@example.com Department of History www.therandomthoughts.com Valdosta State University www.halcyon.com/arborhts/louis.html Valdosta, GA 31698 /~\ /\ /\ 912-333-5947 /^\ / \ / /~\ \ /~\__/\ / \__/ \/ / /\ /~\/ \ /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\ -_~ / "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\ _ _ / don't practice on mole hills" - \____