I over heard my 12 year old sister and her friend talking about their day off on Monday.
"I don't know why we're out. They didn't send home a notice or anything."
I was shocked beyond disbelief. I asked them three times if they were serious. I asked them their age and if they really didn't know what the significance of Monday's date was. My response "Get off of Myspace and google the date." Before they got to googling, they said "Oh it's it MLK's birthday or something like that?!" What a shame! If we didn't know anything about black history or any notable African American leader or figure, we all knew who Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was. Mainly because most people acted as if he was the only one who existed.
"Just for that, you have to read and listen to the I Have a Dream speech." We continued to watch the movie Boycott on BET. I am appalled that the school system has really failed our children in this regard. I can't imagine what else they've neglected to teach them. More importantly, I felt sad that she's my sister and didn't know the basics. Has she not learned anything from me? Well, it's a great time for learning and to teach her.
In high school I did a program where we retraced the steps of the Civil Rights Movement through the South. We ended where Rev. Dr. King was assassinated. As I stood looking out on the balcony where he last stood, listening to the museum's running track of his favorite Mahalia Jackson song, I felt overwhelmed with pride, grief, a sense of urgency and most of all a sense of responsibility. I cried and thought, 'It can't end here. This can't be over. We have so much more to do, to accomplish.' I have to revisit that moment in my mind to stay focused. It's easy to internalize issues and just accept where I stand on them, but it's another to some how effect change.
We have to know our past to go further in the future. We have to teach our children because they are the future.
Every time I hear, watch or read this speech, tears well in my eyes and my heart feels robust.
Letter from the Birmingham Jail, 1963