Updated: Jan 19, 2021
When I woke up this morning, I saw a post on Instagram with Dr. King’s face and a 25% off sticker plastered next to his image. It made my stomach turn. It’s just a reminder, that, well, this is America after all. The American icon who fought for equal rights for Black Americans, and indeed, all Americans, is being reduced to a flash sale.
I put my phone down and started to think about all of the videos, spee
ches, and images I’ve seen over the years. Dr. King in all of his glory at podium after podium. Dr. King with pictures of his children. Dr. King marching with his wife Coretta and 2,000 fellow Americans, then turning the procession around because he didn’t want to violate a restraining order that was brought against them. *deep breath, big sigh*
That was one of the non-violent marches led directly to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Equal rights. That’s what MLK worked for his whole life. Calmly, thoughtfully, peacefully. He worked for what he believed to be the greatest version of America. President Ronald Reagan signed this holiday into law in 1983 (same year I was born, who knew?) after Stevie Wonder’s single “Happy Birthday” dedicated to the King helped to push the campaign for MLK day over the top.
Fast forward to today.
Here we are, America. Thirty-five years after MLK day was established, glued to our televisions watching Americans who say they are fighting for their freedom bring a noose to the U.S. Capitol and chant, “hang Mike Pence”.
*deeper breath, bigger sigh*
I keep asking myself if Dr. King’s work was all in vain. Is America just destined to live in a cycle of violence? Were Dr. King’s nights in jail, his blood, sweat and tears and the constant fear his wife and children lived in all in vain?
*church folk break out singing The Clark Sisters*
On one hand, America is still fighting voter suppression and blatant racism. And on the other, we’re making strides in a fuller representation of ourselves as a country. Jon Ossof is the first Jewish senator elected to a southern state since the 1880s. Raphael Warnock makes history as our first Black senator from Georgia while we’re patiently waiting on justice for George Floyd. Ossof and Warnock, both extensions of Dr. King through Congressman John Lewis, are continuing Dr. King’s work, so maybe it wasn't all in vain. I mean, our first Black and, dare I say, mixed, woman Vice President is being sworn into office this week.
Dr. King had his doubts, too, but he never gave up.
Maybe it was Dr. King’s faith that kept him going. Maybe it was his family and friends and some collard greens and corn bread on Sunday afternoon. Maybe it was little bit of all of that.
I hope that in the midst of your doubts, questions, pain, and anxiety, you can take a deep breath, sigh, find what keeps you going and see things Through Martin’s Eyes.