I was 7 years, 3 months, and 9 days old when Rev. King was assassinated. To be honest, I have no memories concerning it. But I do know how his life and death impacted me.
My generation focused on the phrase “not judged by the color of their skin”. We tried to embrace a combination of “color-blindness” (I had a crush on Michael Jackson and Donny Osmond at the same time in 6th grade and Tony, a black student in my class in 9th grade) and black “awareness” at the same time (see a fascinating history of black tv actors and shows here).
As I sit here watching the sun rise on MLK Day, I’m struck by the fact that it has been nearly 50 years since his death. I wonder what have we learned and how have we grown – what have I learned and how have I grown since then?
I know color-blindness is not the solution we thought it was (see a great article here), but it was a first step. I know simply having more Africa-American television shows is not the answer, but it was a start. I know some people believe we are moving backwards, and others refuse to acknowledge such a thing as “white privilege”. I’m learning to see and acknowledge people for who they are. To neither accept or reject them for their culture but to look at their character. To look for traits of integrity, compassion, responsibility, and respect and choose relationships with those people.
I believe we have moved forward and are continuing to do so. I choose to spend today thanking Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his courage and his vision. I choose to spend today celebrating how far we’ve come. Thank you Rev. King.