Growing up in my home, with a southern mama, meant that Martin Luther King Jr. was a name that I knew well. I can recall watching many images on the television that would show the Jim Crow south, marches, dogs, firehoses, and lynchings. I remember feeling the sadness and rage that would come along with those images, but being a young child meant I was without the ability to understand what it all meant. It just translated to me as hate, and hate never feels good.
As I have gotten older, I’ve come to really understand how learning the hate of the past has shaped our future. I have started to understand my role in changing the pain of our past into seeds for the future. I cannot do it alone, we are all responsible for doing our parts.
Today is a holiday that is equivalent to celebrating a day of empowerment for Black people, and for all people. Today marks the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy of becoming one of the most important figures in the civil rights movement. It doesn’t stop there, but to say all the ways he has had an impact on the self preservation of African Americans would take pages of writing. There are plenty of pieces out there that say it more eloquently than I, and from a more objective view. Instead I want to focus on what MLK Jr. means to me, a much more personal perspective on a spiritual journey.
I have come into my own within the last five years. It has been a process of uncovering, unlearning and relearning. One thing that has not changed is my understanding of who Reverend King is to me, and to my people. My mother would talk about growing up in the south, being born in Alabama during segregation, and the pride that came from the marches for equality. I remember her stories about what segregation was like, and how hard it was to be a black woman during those times. I remember thinking how glad I was that I didn’t have to live like that, how grateful I was that things had changed. I am educated enough today to know that not as much has changed as I once thought when I was a child, but I am still grateful.
King’s fight for equality wasn’t just about race, but also against the war, and against poverty. He had big dreams, some of which we have been able to fulfill.
I think days like this remind me that my spiritual quest does not begin or end with my devotion to the Lord and Lady, and makes me partly responsible for how this dream moves forward. Equality is not a privilege that all people will receive, and it requires that we continue to work for it and towards it.
We must be about what we speak about, through the challenges and the misunderstandings. And as I sit here writing this, I know it to be true. I love my biracial family, and the element of love that comes from a connection that does not see color, but the world sees color no matter how much I want that or not. The forward movement to true equality is still necessary, and our fight is not done.
The God and Goddess teach me that love conquers all, and it is a blessing to feel and give love. On the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. I am happy to have been a product of the legacy of his work, and that he gave me the ability to love beyond color or culture. He loved me enough to fight for my future before I was born.
Thank you Dr. King, thank you for your ability to show faith and spirit through your love for all people.