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Let’s Never Say We’re Tired of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Again
All throughout elementary and high school, I learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His birthday was recognized as a national holiday in 1983, I was 10 years old. Aspects of Dr. King and his dream was drilled into my head as it was for many of you.
In my early 20’s, I can remember saying things like “I’m tired of Dr. King”. I wasn’t alone, many of us have said we are tired of hearing about Dr. King. The turning point for me was having an African American History Professor explain that what we learned in school was only half the story.
I should have known better anyway because, as I have mentioned many times, I was born and raised in Memphis, TN. For those of you who are uninitiated, Memphis is the place Dr. King was killed on April 4th 1968. Nearly 50 years ago.
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After the African American History Teacher challenged me and my TRUE knowledge of Dr. King, it dawned on me that my mother was alive during that, and, my grandmother and grandfather, who passed away in the early 2000s, were both there too.
I asked my Mom first, “Do you recall the day Dr. King was killed?” and she told me everything. The school principal made the announcement over the intercom and they dismissed school with instructions that the kids were to go straight home. My mom was the oldest child so she also had to get her brothers and sisters and head home before dark.
My grandmother told me that her boss came into the kitchen and told her and the rest of the HELP, that Dr. King had been shot and they to get their babies and go on home. She did. My mother and grandmother nervously waited for my grandfather to come home.
My grandfather told me that he had worked all day at his first job and no one told him about Dr. King’s assassination. He then went to pick up his buddy to sell tobacco on the side of the road, just as they always did for extra money. He said a police officer pulled up and said something like, “You boys need to get on home, Dr King’s been shot and all negroes must be off the street by dark.”
I learned that leading up to his assassination, Dr. King was growing very tired of waiting for America to give us all Civil Rights. He was non-violent however he was getting frustrated with how long it was taking America to come around. Not that he was about to get violent or anything like that be he wasn’t the same, he was changing and he was ready for change.
Change! That word was big last year. Take a historical and holistic look at 2016, and you will see hatred, violence, shootings, police brutality, resulting in demonstrations, protests, marches, and rallies – all in with a cry for change.
Dr. King practiced non-violent civil disobedience, that’s where we got it from.
All of us, meaning black folks, white folks, brown folks, and all other colors in between, are tired of hearing about slavery, civil rights and Dr. King, yet we forget that if we do not know our history, we cannot know our future.
I employ you to stop ignoring movies like the Help, the Butler, 12 years a Slave, Birth of a Nation and Selma which tells the stories of important Civil Rights Icons like Dr. King.
And let’s never say we’re tired of Dr. King again, because clearly the message and methods are still relevant today PLUS it’s totally disrespectful and disgraceful to his achievements.