Married to one of the most influential civil rights leaders of our era, but a legend in her own right. She continued MLK Jr.’s legacy by founding the King Center, and was also the leader of a successful campaign in making her husband’s birthday a national holiday. Not only was she involved in civil rights for minorities, but human rights all around; this included LGBT and women’s rights. What’s her story?
Today we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. MLK dedicated his life to improving the world, and his legacy has inspired many to continue to make the world a better place through a national day of service (nationalservice). Happy #MLKDay!
I have to tell you guys, I don’t understand. I just don’t. I don’t understand why, in 2014, this is happening.
I’m white. I grew up in a very small, predominately white town. And we’re below the mason-Dixon so I can’t even begin to tell you how many racist people I grew up with, and they didn’t even try to hide it. Their parents taught them that it was okay! (it was mostly the grown men, what a shock right? They’re unbearable. Not to mention the amount of homophobia and sexism I also grew up with.) I just never got over that. How could that just be okay? Thankfully, my parents are loving people who taught me that all people are equal in the eyes of God, and no one is better than anyone, no matter their skin color, it’s irrelevant. I’m grateful that in a community of racists, I was born into a family of people who have big hearts.
While most of my classmates either went into the mines, got married, or went to a local college after high school, I decided that area wasn’t for me. Not only was there very little educational or career opportunities, but I did not share the ideals of most of the people there.
I didn’t want that.
In Summer of 2013, my sister got married. While she and my brother in law were about to move away, she had the ceremony back home, because that’s where all of our family is. One of my sister’s best friends is middle-eastern. Her parents were born in Pakistan, and followed the Muslim religion very strictly. So, while our bridesmaids dresses were strapless, her dress had to be added on to, so that her shoulders and chest would be covered. It still sickens me to this day how many people, family and friends mind you, talked horribly about her! I still remember a friend of the family saying to “watch out” because she “probably has a bomb hidden in there” because “all Muslims are out to kill.” She could barely enjoy being a bridesmaid because she knew people were talking about her. That’s when I made up my mind for good. When I graduate college, I am NEVER coming back (except to visit my parents).
I didn’t want that.
My freshman year, I knew that my school would be very diverse in terms of race. I’m not going to lie, I was intimidated. I had never in my life been in that situation before. However, I was determined to have an open mind and an open heart about it, because that’s how I was raised (God bless my parents). It turns out most of my friends I made first semester were either black, Indian, or Asian. I have to tell you guys, and I mean this honestly, the race stereotypes set forth by society are just plain wrong. Wrong as in they’re untrue. Are there loud black people? Sure, but there are just as many loud white people (me included, for sure). Are there Asians who always have their nose in the books? Sure, but there are white people like that too (my sister who is studying genetics). I could go on and on. Those stereotypes hardly apply to everyone in a race, and they’re ridiculous. The kids I met that year were the best, and they’ll be lifelong friends.
So, seeing all of this corruption and violence and racism within our own police force in America literally makes me sick to my stomach. I was so naive. I seriously thought that small towns like mine were the only places that were this racist, and that the majority of places in America had progressed enough to see everyone equally. I can’t believe now that I thought that. What a joke. I don’t pretend to understand this on as deep of a level as those of color, but I do sympathize, and this situation does turn my stomach. I’m sorry that this kind of behavior is still going on. It really makes me sad. I really had thought that by 2014 we had our heads out of our asses enough to realize that skin color is not a reason to deem someone less of a person. All life is precious. If you think otherwise, you’re damn wrong. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. You. Are. Wrong.
I don’t understand why we dedicate an entire holiday to MLK if we don’t actually believe in what he worked so hard to make a reality, what he gave his life for. Why is his “I have a dream speech” so famous if so many of us don’t agree with it?
I know that I have been born with a privilege. But to be honest, I don’t want it. If being born white gives me privilege, that means those who are not are supposed to be beneath me, and I don’t want that! I want everyone to have the same opportunities! I want my friends to not have to stress out over whether they’ll get picked for an internship because a lot of the applicants are white. I want them to not be afraid to go to the police. I want them to be happy with who they are, and not sad because the media makes fun of them and stereotypes them. Seeing what they go through on a daily basis breaks my heart. I don’t want this.
I don’t want this.
I hope one day America will realize that this is a true tragedy, and will do something serious about it. Until then, we must continue living in a world that is far less than ideal. I admire those who are fighting to push it towards an ideal world, and sincerely hope that we as a country, and a world, get there someday.
MLK was told that he was “making it about race,” he was too young and impatient and scaring away allies and that he was “the real racist.” American police & media told MLK that if only these blacks would behave differently, THEN they’d be worthy of full protection under the law. MLK dedicated himself to the resistance of injustice. The separatism & extrajudicial beatings & murders of his day were not on black & white posters set to music, they were in color, in real-time; real lives destroyed & discarded. It was not universally identified as injustice. In fact, it was relentlessly excused, explained & justified away by the same spectrum of “nice Americans” that haunt progress today. His principled, uncompromising voice told the world that Black lives are in fact lives & therefore they matter. Then he was ridiculed for it by “good Americans.” Then beaten, bombed, stabbed, jailed, slandered, lampooned as a monkey by “satirists” & when he didn’t bow, he was shot to death in broad daylight. Surrounded by cameras and “he had it coming.” He wore a suit, had a doctorate, no tattoos or gold & far more articulate than those pretending any of that makes us more or less human.
What heinous excuses & jokes would have littered twitter the day MLK was killed?
Then comes the softening of blows, and focus, in death. The sterilizing and controlled reentry. The obedient smile. We #ReclaimMLK, as the human being: The fearless leader of a movement to disrupt real physical, social & psychological oppression. (Which at the time, was precisely what America stood for & shouted down upon millions of it’s most hardworking, longstanding citizenry.) MLK was decidedly NOT this gift shop souvenir being sold to us by revisionist historians & worshippers of convenience. #ReclaimMLK / Wanna be overseers, life-long house guests & self-service industrialists from sea to shining sea tried to crush MLK then, & us now. #OhWell / And just as is happening now, the reflection in the mirror MLK held, inspired a current of love & commitment that cannot be extinguished. In honoring MLK we honor the women & men, of all colors, queer, straight, rich & poor, who lifted him up, & themselves in the process. Keeping looking & listening, keep asking, keep thinking, keep writing, keep working, keep talking, keep trying & falling. Keep getting up.