Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to my church, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio when I was very young. I vaguely remember the adults buzzing with excitement about his visit. Being a pastor’s kid, Dr. King’s books were in our library. My dad played his speeches and sermons on the record player. Everything he did that made headlines and even the things that did not make the news were discussed at the dinner table.
In the fifth grade, I was over my friend’s house Renee Taylor working on a class project. We were spread out on the dining room table and her parents were in the living room watching the television. Renee’s mom screamed and said, “Dr. King has been shot!” I knew attempts had been made to take his life before. My mother called Renee’s home and arranged for me to be picked up and brought home immediately. I do not remember the time lapse but, I remember the news announcing Dr. King was dead. My heart sunk and I cried. I knew life as I knew it would somehow be different.
The weeks following his assassination were memorable. I remember the somber but statuesque look of Coretta Scott King at her husband’s funeral and that infamous photo of her that graced the cover of Life and Ebony magazines. I watched the continued protests of the Vietnam War. I watched the birth of the Black Power movement. What scars my memory the most? I watched in disbelief as neighborhoods I had visited in the past burned to the ground by the people that lived in them.
What if anything has changed from then to now? Are we still looting and burning our communities? If not physically; are we participating in our own mental, spiritual and emotional extinction? It has been 51 years since the death of Dr. King. We have made progress in some areas but the essence of who we are; our values and beliefs are stripping away to the core. Villagers; it is time for us to build not burn and to love not loot. This week, we honor a man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who sacrificed his life to make our community and our world a better place. This week, we will place a lot of focus on his “I Have a Dream” speech. There is no denying that speech will live on long after we are gone. What is not so prominent in history even though it is OUR story is the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech delivered the day before his death, April 3, 1968. It is that speech that reminds the audience to join the march for the dignity and fair treatment of the city workers in the sanitation department in Memphis. Dr. King reminds us to support businesses that support us and to “Buy Black”. He commends the clergy for looking outside of their four walls and helping in civic affairs. Lastly, he reminds us if he is unable to get to the Promised Land with us, we WILL get there if we stay the course.
Let’s stay the course! Let’s march for the dignity of humankind. Let’s support our businesses. Let’s “be” the church instead of “go” to church. It is up to us, to save us. After all, in the midst of our triumphs and trials, we are the keeper of the Dream. Happy King Day!
THIS EDITION’S CHALLENGE:
Take one young person with you and participate in the MLK March. Take pictures of you at the march or at the Pittman-Sullivan Park program and post to The Observer’s social media @ 210observer.