Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was alive when I was born. The following year, he was murdered. Despite the attempt to silence him, I grew up listening to his words and reading his story. His message resonated deeply within me. But why had this black man affected the life of a little white girl growing up in California?
Because I am white, there is no way I can fully comprehend the power of his message. But his words about unity, freedom, and love are for everyone, black and white, male or female. I am awed by his willingness to stand up for the rights of black people in a world that hated him for being black. He was a man with a family and I’m sure he was scared most of the time. But he couldn’t stay silent. His strength is why a gun couldn’t stop him.
My parents were hippies in the 1970’s so I was lucky enough to learn about Dr. King and Vietnam and integration at the dinner table. I knew who The Black Panthers were and I could find Saigon on a map. But no one impressed me more than Dr. Martin Luther King.
Today, I continue to educate myself about freedom and equality in my country. As a white woman, I can never understand how it feels to be black in this country. I try not to speak for the black community. Dr. King’s message of equality should inspire us all to do better. Recognize racism wherever it is and fight to end it. Don’t turn your back on injustice.
Dr. King would be marching in the streets for justice today. He would also be preaching about love and forgiveness. America can not exist with an “us vs them” mentality. We must work together.
A bullet killed the man in 1968. Don’t let apathy kill the message.