Monday, January 16, 2017

What's This Day All About, Anyhow?

Today many of you will enjoy a day off of work, celebrating the end of another long holiday weekend.  Many of you will have only a vague idea of just why you get to take this day off, so let me help you.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a seminal figure in the civil rights movement during the 1960s in our country.  A simple Google search will provide you with all the information you need about this man.  Here's a short video clip that may be helpful for you.
During the mid 1960s I was a young guy growing up in California, barely aware of civil rights.  I've written about this before in August of 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech, HERE.  Read it (again) if you wish.  Here's a short version of that speech.

My experience in the United States Army exposed me, up close and personal, to many of the civil rights issues of the day.  Again, I wrote about them earlier.  The south at the time I lived in Alabama is not something most of you can comprehend.  My friend and I drove across the Edmund Pettus Bridge the day before the first march, when state troopers beat, hosed down and turned dogs on the peaceful marchers.
I watched as parts of Los Angeles burned during the Watts riots of 1965 while I was still in the army.  We had a cross burned on the lawn of a black sergeant on post in November of 1965, just days before I left the Army.  In those days, in that part of the country, there were still separate restrooms and drinking fountains for blacks.  In Dothan, Alabama - the closest town to my Army post - blacks were required to purchase movie tickets "outside" and take an outside staircase to the balcony.
I was drafted three weeks after John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas.  I saw parts of cities erupt in violence following Dr. King's assassination in 1968.  This was not a good time in our country.
Today, as we celebrate Dr. King's life, I contemplate the inauguration of our new President on Friday and, based on his utterances over the past couple years, am terrified about how Donald J. Trump's presidency may affect this country.  So, I thought it was appropriate to remind us all of Dr. King's messages...

On March 3, 1968 Dr. King made his prophetic "I've been to the mountaintop" speech.  Here's a short version of that speech.  The very next day he was murdered.
That night Senator Robert Kennedy delivered a speech to a crowd in Indianapolis from the back of a flatbed truck telling them that Dr. King had been murdered.  Here's a short video clip of his speech.  Two months later he, too, was gunned down.

I write to you today, a holiday which is dedicated to Dr. King's life, to remind you that his work is far, far from over.  When you do your Google search of him you will find dozens of quotes attributed to him.  Of all of them, this one rings loudest to me.  I'll leave you with it as you contemplate Dr. King and what this holiday means.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

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Blogger Rick Huffman said...

Thanks for your insights regarding MLK day. Conservative or liberal, those of us of a certain age were deeply affected by the events of those times. Let's hope we can continue to make progress and not fall too far back.

1/16/2017 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

I was OK, somber and reflective, but basically OK until the song. Excuse me, my eyes are leaking and I need to blow my nose.

1/17/2017 12:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Xyn Bohemia said...

geoff, thanks for this. Martin Luther King had a huge impact on me. as a little girl in los angeles during that riot i was so scared and upset. i also was effected by the stories from around the country during the civil rights movement. i just could not for the life of me understand why people would treat each other like this. still can't.

1/18/2017 10:08:00 AM  

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