Martin Luther King

It is hard to write about an enigma or a contradiction to social norms.  At least it is for me.  Several authors have written books about this man that chronicle every minute of his life, it seems, and it is hard for me to pen a paragraph or two.  Do we understand him?  I doubt it.  Maybe his wife did, and I hope so.  Maybe his children did, I pray that they do.  But for the average man, the everyday man, Martin Luther King is so, so difficult to understand and as a result, my work here today will be topical at best, but I will do my best to invite you into how I feel.

The Democrats would like for you to think he was a good old American Democrat, but he wasn’t.  The Republicans would like to use him as a poster child of their party, but they can’t.  Abraham Lincoln would have simply been proud of him regardless of what it said on his voter registration card.  Martin Luther King was different, and not in the traditional Political Party sense of the word, he was simply different, perhaps unique.  I can see a blending of Biblical Scholar, Gandhi and poet laureate. He was his own man.  He had his own visions and no matter how much he tried to define and describe them, we just didn’t get it.  President Kennedy didn’t get it.  He was a great President and he simply didn’t get Martin Luther King.  President Johnson didn’t get it and he signed the Civil Rights Act into law.  Most of us who grew up in the south during the 50’s and 60’s didn’t get it, largely because the news media didn’t get it.  Law enforcement didn’t get it; that’s clear.  If you rounded up the cops in those videos from two decades of civil unrest and put each one on trial, many would spend the greater part of their lives in jail or worse.

So who actually “got” Martin Luther King?  Not many.  You don’t have to take off your shoes to help you count the number.  It is so, so small.  So how do we measure the man?  What is the measure of the man?  Superficially it is in his actions, but the depth of the man comes from his impact on every one of our lives.  Throughout the year we speak his name, because we are routinely reminded of his impact on all of us.  At least one day a year we celebrate the life of the man, like we will on Monday.  When we stare into the imagery of a black President or a black Secretary of State or a black justice of the Supreme Court or a black Attorney General or a black Army General or a black governor or a black mayor or a black child in a very white school, we are reminded of one man’s dream that we all be measured by the content and character of our hearts and not the color of our skins.  What a simple and profoundly defining illustration of the entirety of one man’s life.

Today we stand in a sea of black faces. Today we stand in a sea of faces of all colors.  Few nations on this earth can say they are colorblind.  Even with the racism that continues to haunt us and divide us and diminish us as a people and a nation we are by far a colorblind nation.  It is not race that divides us any longer.  Within our courts, schools, hallowed halls, churches, military bases, space platforms and every walk of life, we have put aside our differences and broken down the racial barriers and the bulwark is strong.  We are not going back.

The path forward is paved by the footsteps of a man named Martin Luther King.  His guiding light and his principled life will forever shape the destiny of our children.  His light will grow and shine brightly in more places around the globe each and every day forevermore.  His dream is now our dream and day-by-day it becomes the dream of many others.  We walk in the light of this great American and we are a better people for having known him.

One thought on “Martin Luther King

  1. Melvin Forbes says:

    Mike, in reading your piece on dr. King I thought I would give you a perspective from someone who’s life he had a profound impact on. Having grown up in the south during the 50s and 60s my family like many African-Americans were not afforded the basic rights of being able go to school ,dine in restaurants ,drink water from certain fountains or travel freely without fear of your life.
    These basic rights that we so freely share today had nothing to do with anything related to being able to afford paying for dining or intellectual competency to learn but just the color of my skin.
    Dr. King civil rights movement later afforded me the opportunity to attend a predominate white high school where I was only one of five african-American. Dr Kings life afforded me the opportunity to eat in places where my parents where never able to and work and travel places without fear of my life my parents had only read about.
    Dr. King non-violent civil rights movement ,though not often spoke about ,was a deterrent in preventing a another Civil War in the United States. His life inspired the movement for equality among genders ,religious tolerance and most of all respect for other ethnic and political views.
    Dr. King Knew when the founding fathers of this country spoke of life ,liberty and pursuit of happiness for all man kind , african-Americans were not included. However, Dr king understood the power of those words and brought them to life for millions who had died without them and the millions who lived in search of them, Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all man kind.
    Dr. King’s life inspired women movements, labor movements and political movements to name just a few.
    His words,work and life inspired a Community organizer from Chicago to become president of United States, Pres. Barack Obama.

    His worked inspired international movements like but not limited to the great Nelson Mandela, who was in prison in South Africa for more than 27 years wrongfully and later came out triumphantly as president of the same country.

    I never knew George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln or many other leaders who help paved the way and path to greatness for this country. But I did know Dr .Martin Luther King Jr. Who’s life had an direct impact on the Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that I like many Americans enjoy today.

    We celebrate his legacy today because his work help stabilize the past, brought truth and light to the present and continue inspired greatest for dreamer of the future.

    I celebrate his life today because of what he gave that inspired me to know, only those who risk going too far will ever know how far they can go.

    I celebrate his life today because he demonstrated if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, there’s no mountain too high, no valley to low or river to wide that can’t be Climbed, Conquered or crossed if you believe in God.

    I celebrate his legacy today because he paid the ultimate price for freedom for others, his life.

    Melvin Forbes

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