My first memory of Martin Luther King Jr. was years ago, my elementary days living in Bergen County, New Jersey. I woke up the anxious little girl ready to go to school (yeah, I liked going to school lol) to my mom saying, “No baby, you’re not going to school today.” It was MLK Day. My school was open that day, but my mom said that I wasn’t going. That was the day I learned that I was different from the other boys & girls in my class.
I was about six years old, just old enough to understand the variations of the color spectrum. There really wasn’t a color variation within my educational institution; unbeknownst to me, I was the spec. And with broad strokes, my mother was able to explain to me in one conversation in my bedroom as I looked out the window watching the other kids catch the bus, the legacy of this man, a one Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while at the same time, fully uncovering my eyes as to who I was on that day. Not just a little girl, but a little black girl; my life would forever change.
Do you remember the day you learned who you were? The day you came to a realization that although we are the same, we were different. As five and six year olds sitting in a classroom everyday, you don’t know of any real differences between you and the next kid. All you know is, he/she doesn’t live where you live, what comes out of their lunchbox is a daily surprise for you; in your mind, in those times, that’s the only difference between you two. But until one of your elders points it out, as a little girl, as a child, you are unaware of the first obvious. The first difference people tend learn upon their introduction of you. Something only a blind man won’t be able to see at first meet.
That which makes us different, is way beyond the eyes of our skin pigment.
Born, Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929, MLK spoke a truth that people even in this day still refuse to accept. The civil rights activist played a pivotal role in bringing the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the United States to an end; sacrificing his life for the cause, he was responsible for the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Jailed time after time in effort to derail him for change was coming, MLK Jr was silenced for his movement after being assassinated in April 1968. As a pastor, he ministered love; as a black man, he urged justice. King’s famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech at his historic march on Washington in 1968 forever rings, as we continue the fight today. The march drawing over 200,000 spectators, King’s innocent address would stir a fire in the hearts of which he spouted to. His hope for us all, black & white to come together as brothers & sisters.
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
I remember that day on my bed, the realest history lesson to date, as my mother explained to me why it was okay to stay home on MLK, unlike any other day; because he was a man unlike any other. She told me to be proud of the fact that I was considered different from everyone else in my class, different because I was black. And although this man had to die for his dream to carry through, his legacy is bigger than most living; as it will perpetually be.
Martin Luther King Jr., on this day, we salute you; the utmost respect, indeed!