Good morning, Netizens...
I spent most of yesterday observing the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King if not with a sense of obligation or even public service. I observed the holiday quietly, in retrospect and with a strong sense of the history which few others may have because of their relative youth.
Although I never witnessed Dr. King in any of his many speeches, I certainly visited the Deep South during a time in its history that still rests in my heart as one of the most disheartening, sad and bitter times. I still remember seeing the ugly “Whites Only” signs in nearly all public facilities. I also was told by many people, most of whom also came from the North, to avoid getting involved in any of the demonstrations that were frequently taking place.
In retrospect, I either didn't have the guts to stand up for my beliefs, or else I was smart enough to realize I very well could end up in jail (most likely on trumped-up charges) or worse. I developed a strong sense of avoidance during the early years of Segregation; avoiding controversy, any potential charges of racial favoritism, and always being careful where I parked at night.
Still, despite avoiding controversy of all kinds, I did manage to meet and know many people of color along the road, and they seemed to understand the quandary I found myself in. It seems in retrospect that if I met and greeted someone down south with gentle decency and kindness I nearly always received the same treatment wherever I was.
I cannot forget the courage of Dr. King, who based upon my memories of that time, had a vision of the future which still has not been fulfilled all these many years later. I once had high hopes that I would see that dream of which he spoke being fulfilled in my lifetime. Now, at the age of 66, I no longer believe that is true. But my children and perhaps their children may have learned from our past.