Martin Luther King Day
Before you complain that the post office, banks, and schools are closed while you have to go to work, or alternatively before you enjoy the shopping on this three day weekend in the dead of winter, or if you are not in the United States and wonder what the fuss is about, I'd like you all to remember. If you are my age, it happened in your life time and in the adult life time and memory of your parents and teachers. America was a different country in my lifetime, and it took courage to change it for the better. It took many people's courage, but one man, Martin Luther King Jr. symbolizes the struggle for civil rights. Below are his words written from the Birmingham Jail April 16, 1963. I think these words sum up why we need to pause, remember, and reflect....
...Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading &qot;white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes &quuot;nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Please if you have time, read the letter in its entirety even though it is quite long. We all need to remember.
Eileen H. Kramer