Monday, January 15, 2007

Cousins Sharing Thoughts On Martin Luther King Day

I have referred to my cousin Russell (Rusty) before. He is very smart, and a talented writer. Politically, he is about as "left" as my Daddy was "right" . . . and when they sparred at family gatherings, it was a joy to watch . . . freedom of speech at its fun-loving best.

Watching those two really go at it, you just wanted to jump up and down and shout, God Bless this America of ours!

I treasure a remembrance of Daddy that Russell shared after Pops died . . . "You told me once that your father enjoyed our political discussions. The thing is, I never started any of them. He did. He knew perfectly well we didn't agree on much of anything and would hear things from me that would cause him to shake his head in dismay. Still, he wanted to hear me."

A number of years ago, while visiting a friend from residency who now lives & practices outside of Atlanta, I made an effort to visit the King Center. I HATE driving in Atlanta and am easily discombobulated by all of the deep-fried-southern-speed-demons. With one such demon on my tail, I missed a turn off the Interstate and wound up in an obviously impoverished black neighborhood with no idea of how to get where I was going. I stopped at a delapidated/bars-at-the-windows convenience store and walked in . . . the only "white girl" in the place. Everyone in the store stared at me as if I were from Mars. And I'd be lying if I said I was completely comfortable. But as soon as I asked the old gentleman clerking the counter how to get to the King Center, his face lit up like a Christmas tree. "You hear that?", he announced to everyone within earshot, "This nice lady wants to pay her respects to our Dr. King." His weathered face was beaming . . . and the smile was contagious . . . spreading throughout the store. I got written directions and an escort from two very nice young men very eager to show me the way. And I very much enjoyed my visit to the Center.

If you're ever in Memphis, you might also want to visit the National Civil Rights Museum, contained within the Lorraine motel where King was shot. It's just a block or so (and an easy walk) from one of the last trolley stops.

Anyway, no doubt prompted by my post this morning stating my support for President Bush's recent decisions re: the Iraq war (must be channelling Dad), Russell (probably shaking his head in dismay) sent me an e-mail referencing Robert Kennedy's speech the night the Reverend Dr. King was murdered:

My apologies if you've already heard this clip somewhere else. But since this is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it seems fitting to share it.

This is Robert F. Kennedy, in the midst of his run for president, addressing a campaign rally in Indianapolis just hours after King's assassination. The crowd had not yet been told of King's death, and the police told Bobby they couldn't guarantee his safety if the crowd decided to start rioting. He made the speech anyway - and, for whatever reason, Indianapolis was one of the few major cities where no riots occurred that night.

Much has been said and written about Martin Luther King Jr. in 40 years, but for me, RFK's impromptou speech on the night of his murder still pretty much sums it up.

The following is my response:

I am aware of the speech. Robert had his moments (a speech he made in South Africa comes to mind). But here is the MLK Jr. quote I like best:

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the vitriolic words of violent actions of the bad people, but the appalling silence and indifference of the good people.

Our generation will have to repent not only for the words and actions of the children of darkness, but also for the fears and apathy of the children of light.

In my professional and legal struggles, I have lived this one cousin. Thank you for reminding me to post on that today:)

Much Love to you & yours, MJ

Red or Yellow, Black or White, the appalling silence and indifference of "the good" people is what kills you.

May the Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rest in peace. And may his dream live on.

1 comment:

meblogin said...

Thanks. Good Post.