Much has changed since the fatal assassination on April 4, 1968, in the mind of a small 11-year-old boy whose world consisted of his close friends, playing games, exploring, and looking for new adventures. Unaware of the social racial injustice which had engulfed the country, or a young Baptist African American minister who was in the midst of the civil rights movement, the only rights conferred upon this young boy came from his parents, and the most important elements in his life were love and a safe home environment.
On that particular day, those historical events began to etch themselves in his mind and heart with renewed interest. Like never before did the events such as the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the 1962 unsuccessful struggle against segregation in the likes of Albany, Georgia, 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama, ‘63 march on Washington D.C., concluding with Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream “speech,” begin the process of changing his world view. Would his life even make a difference to right injustices?
By his freshman year in high school, his body was becoming stronger, swifter and more athletic, but the stench of racism still lingered. The voting rights act had been passed after the “Bloody Sunday” Selma march of 1965, the fair housing act was passed soon after and the opposition to the Vietnam War was in full bloom. It was the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death which fanned the embers even brighter. The nation was in a wave of race riots from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles and every city in between. It was known as the “Holy Week Uprising,” the greatest wave of social unrest the United States had experienced since the Civil War.
Finding himself placed in a segregated high school because of Brown vs the Kansas Board of Education decision, this young man watched and listened as he heard civil rights leaders like James Farmer Jr. call for continuance of nonviolent action. On the other hand those who were more militant like Stokely Carmichael called for a more forceful response. The young man gazed upon the United States international athletes as they raised their fists in solidarity saluting “Black power” on stage before the world in defiance to the racial injustice. Still naive and somewhat unaware, the seeds for political involvement grew even stronger.
Before graduation, activism was becoming the norm and drinking from the well of politics wasn’t even quenching his thirst, always wanting more. As a young adult, he found himself working in campaigns searching to understand political philosophies: the legitimate role of government, protecting the rights and freedoms of its citizens, its level of involvement in the economy, development of moral philosophy, a strong central government or power conferred to the states, all of which was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech.
From an 11-year-old boy to a 60-year-old man who now looks out the window of his soul, he has seen men and women who have risen to embrace the challenges of their time. When called upon they will not shrink at all to its fate, but with great optimism and trust in God have pushed forward even to their own demise. For there’s now eternal flame which burns even brighter inside of his heart, because each generation will have its own Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to inspire and challenge the next eleven-year-old boy or girl to believe they can make a difference be it great or small.
God Bless You Dr. King for I have seen the dream and it’s still alive…….We shall see the glory of the Lord.