I sit here writing to you in the last hour of what we recognize as MLK Day. Nina Simone is playing in the background too, so get ready…
2010 has been a rollercoaster already on several levels, filled with some “good” and a whole lot of “different.” On this MLK day, I decided to really reflect on the meaning of the day to me.
To understand where I’m coming from with this, we need to go way back to a place called Brooklyn, NY…East New York specifically. That’s where I spent a decade of my life…in an all-Black, Baptist school.
Why do I specify all-Black and Baptist?
I want to make special note of this because it was central to nearly everything I knew for the first ten years of my education. People encouraged us by calling us African Kings and Queens. We said the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, the christian flag AND the bible!
Our assemblies took place every week and were more like church than anything else. We had morning devotion, sang the Negro National Anthem regularly and usually followed it up with “Oh Master, Let Me Walk With Thee.”
Though we knew about Black History month, we learned about Black History basically every day. The walls were lined with images of famous Black Americans…almost as if it were our own Mount Rushmore.
Though we emphasized service around MLK day, the importance of service was stressed everyday. The day itself was never special to us in that aspect.
I completed days of service in college mainly to fit in with crowd and the idea of it being “a day ON” and not “a day OFF.” Martin Luther King’s birthday and the day the country designates as a holiday has always been more powerful for me as a day of reflection.
This MLK day, I thought of where I came from, where I currently am and where I could possibly be going. In the eyes of many, we, as a people, have overcome. Looking at where we were in the day’s of Dr. King, it is easy to see a great improvement made in the direction of equality. Some would say my job, my degree, my comfortable life (in comparison to those times…) serve as proof that we have overcome.
I look at my job, my degree and my life as a whole and feel like one of the people hanging high in the classroom in Brooklyn. I’m notable enough to be on the wall, and maybe one day, they’ll have to get a new image for our Mount Rushmore and include me. However, as things stand, I’m just one of a few. There are so many out there who haven’t yet overcome.
I’m still on a journey… a collective one, I’d like to think. One leading to the day when we can all say FREE at last…SUCCESSFUL at last…AT PEACE at last…DREAM FULFILLED at last.
I mentioned her earlier, so I’ll leave you with a few of my favorites from the talented Nina Simone.
“Young, Gifted and Black”