My earliest memories are of my little brother having the audacity to come along and steal my mother. I also remember my dad convincing me for a short time that he was Superman. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he thought it would be funny to build a fire in the fireplace on Christmas Eve. I mean, the real Superman wouldn’t light a fire where Santa was supposed to land.
Like most young children, my world consisted of what affected me directly. But the late 1960s were a tumultuous time, and there was lots of banging from the door to the outside world. The Vietnam War, Civil Rights, student protests, women’s rights, hippies and free love, a musical revolution, and so on. One day, the chaos from the outside broke open the door—the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
Dr. King’s tragic death is one of my first memories of the world at large. How could a person who was trying to do so much good die? We’re talking nonviolent protests. A man who said, I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. And, The time is always right to do what is right.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, go. It’s worth your time and money. It not only speaks to Dr. King’s life and death, but also the world of segregation and discrimination. It shows you what life was like in the back of the bus.
The world shifted when Dr. King died on April 4, 1968. But Dr. King’s legacy and the people who believe in him marched forward. Things changed for the better, not always, but sometimes. Most noticeably, segregation was made illegal in all areas of life. People began seeing beyond skin color and finding friends, neighbors, co-workers, and love.
Fifty years later, the world is shifting again. So much hate and anger are whirling through America today. Ugly words, persistent lies, rampant racism and sexism seem to have taken on lives of their own. Children go to school, a place that should be safe, and instead are gunned down.
What would Dr. King say if he were here now? Whatever he would say, you can be sure they would be words of love and hope.