“Grandma, why did we have the day off school? They said it is MLK Memorial Day.”
Well, Child, let me tell you what I know.
First, MLK stands for Martin Luther King. He was a famous man because he brought about the Civil Rights era—a time when many people like me found out some things that we didn’t know before. You see, he was a black man (a Negro/African America), and I didn’t know very many black people.
I was a grown woman and should have known. I knew our schools were segregated—whites in some schools and blacks in others. … Well, back to MLK.
He was a famous Civil Rights leader who exposed a lot of indignities, unfairness, and meanness that black people had to live through. He demanded that there be a change. Every man and woman is equal, he said. And he wanted that change to happen without any violence. That is very important. Peaceful protests.
So some blacks began to do peaceful things like sit at a counter to order a lemonade. Sometimes police were called. But those things began to be talked about on the evening TV news and people like me got smart enough to know how badly black people were being treated. So a lot of us changed. That’s what Dr. King wanted.
Congress did pass some laws. The most important was the Civil Right Act and things got better. TV had some really funny programs that helped. More and more blacks became famous by sports, either by playing or by commenting. Jobs were offered to more black people.
White people and black people spent more time together and they found that they LIKED each other!
And things got better until about 2000 when President Obama was elected. Most Americans believed that proved that racism was pretty much a thing of the past. But when Obama was president things got bad again. So right now, you will hear a lot of people called racists. Mostly that is not true.
Dr. King said he had a dream of someday when little black and white children would walk hand in hand. He would be glad if he could see you with your friends. You choose friends based on their character (personality) rather than the color of their skin or hair.
A sad thing is that a mean guy killed Dr. King before he ever got to see how important his life was and what a good thing happened with the Civil Rights movement.
Oneta speaks about yesterday and the memorial “The Embrace.” At least for me, it only reminded me of the indignities Coretta Scott King suffered alone while her husband was on his mission. “The Embrace” should have been an honor to Dr. King’s success in getting whites and blacks to embrace one another. And what I think about the “memorial” is best left unsaid.