This holiday has actually marked many significant memories in my life than I expected upon reflection. Upon my first conscious meditations about this holiday, I always think of what an extraordinary man of great sacrifice and influence whom Dr. Martin Luther King remains. Seriously, he is even the first African-American of note to be recognized in monument form on our capitol. Second, I am reminded of my days as a young undergraduate at Duke University fighting our modern day form of racism which obviously pales in comparison to type of racism that Dr. King encountered and whose growth he blighted. These memories only underscore the importance of remembering Dr. Martin Luther King and the significance of this holiday. Lastly, I am reminded of what it means to be a true inspirational leader. As I put into words what this holiday means to me, my own deep appreciation for the ability to enjoy a holiday also overcomes me because I can honestly say over the past years which have been occasionally chronicled in this blog I have grown in gratitude for successfully living each day.
For a man whom we celebrate yearly, there are certainly several things which we were taught about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which stand out in our mind beyond the fact that there is a day named after him. Most notably, his often quoted “I have a dream speech” still resonates in the hearts of people across cultures to this very day. Or perhaps, what resonates with you is that he was known as a peaceful man. He is also often remembered juxtaposed to his fellow civil rights advocate Malcolm X. And, honestly, in the past year I have come across more people who relish in diminishing Dr. King’s contributions by pointing out his imperfections in his personal life or distracting from his major contributions to the civil rights movement with comparisons to others. So, with that in mind I will also say I truly feel he is a man who deserves just recognition for all that he has done and all that he continues to do in inspiring others to passionately advocate for change. There will always be someone willing to dig deeper into the details and maybe even debate Dr. King’s role; yet, the fact will stand that he achieved recognition and did more than just participate. He took action. And, while my words will remain focused on his personal impact, I truly encourage you to read more articles like the following link which inspired me to take more time with this blogpost and goes into even greater detail about Dr. King’s historical contributions: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/29/1011562/-Most-of-you-have-no-idea-what-Martin-Luther-King-actually-did#.
Even more importantly, Dr. Martin Luther King’s holiday reminds me of days when I used my energy to speak out about various issues far my frequently than I have in recent months. I have briefly mentioned some of my own encounters with racism in some of my prior posts along with the actions I took during those times in response to those encounters. While it may be embarrassing and humbling to admit, especially as a person of color, in my more recent past than I care to specify I have said “I am tired of discussing race.” And, while I am being honest and revealing this, I have also said I am tired of fighting racism. Granted, I have wonderful friends who gently remind me I can never be tired of fighting such a dogged problem which has stained our society for centuries. And this was a feeling I had even after I told my Dad that his own parents were too preoccupied with race to which he responded I needed to better understand what they had been through. Whether you consciously deal with it everyday or are occasionally prodded to give attention to blatant racist attacks, we all grow weary of the prolonged fight against bigotry. Racism and perils of ignorant judgment will forever be impossible to escape and this holiday reminds me that we must continue to fight in different ways.
What I most appreciate in this moment of reflecting on Dr. King’s impact is his ability to choose his words wisely while consistently advocating peace. He eloquently reminds us that “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” With each lesson I have learned thus far in my young life, I can easily say my appreciation for peace has grown significantly. The past teaches us all so many lessons and while at times it is appropriate to guard our words, there will always also be a time to speak them plainly. At this time last year, my life was at an inflection point personally. And, for a short time, it fueled some needed activity which benefited Royal TKO Media; however, this year I know that the inflection point will be on a professional level. Every year we can choose among many inspirational quotes from Dr. King and this year I choose to let Dr. King to rekindle the fire within me to encourage the growth of even more impactful, inspirational leaders to prevent us from growing too weary from doing our part to fight injustices caused by wretched ideas such as racism.