Today, I sit in the middle of a three-day weekend and enjoy the comfort of my apartment, coffee included. Ok, that's a lie. I didn't finish the post on time, so now I'm outside of the three-day weekend. But I still have my coffee by my side. But anyway, it seems to be this way every year - I enjoy this early-January vacation and sleep in on Monday. I dare to say almost every kid in America shares this same view of the weekend.
But something just doesn't quite add up - I have always understood why Reverend King was so important. Being the son of a pastor, I have understood the importance and beauty of his speeches, which oft draw from the biblical imagery of the Old Testament prophets and the teachings of Christ. Being the son of a soldier, I have seen and understood the importance of racial equality and the beauty of diverse communities. It's just that for some reason, I have never been able to fully appreciate the day. And as I said earlier, I think I speak for every kid and student in the US - as evidenced by the "MLK Day Blow-Out Parties" being held around Athens tomorrow. As well as the fact that everybody I know spent the day either catching up on homework or goofing off.
In our educational system's push to teach about Dr. King, we learn about his childhood, a few of his marches, and the "I Have a Dream" speech. Almost to a point where we are "emotionally dead" (I beg your forgiveness for such a cliché) to the speech itself and can no longer fully appreciate what Rev. King was talking about. This is not to say the youth of my generation don't care about desegregation (though I wonder if we realize how important it really is). Instead, I'm saying that the "watered-down" version of King's life we receive nearly destroys the full impact of the break - King was involved in a lot more than just civil rights, and his involvement in civil rights went a lot further than some speeches and marches. I can remember from school, the explanations was something like this, "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the leader of the African-American civil rights movement in the 1960s. He is best known for his non-violence and the "I Have a Dream" speech." The end. What of his motivation? In a world where violence was the problem and some claimed that violence was the answer, why was Dr. King a pacifist?
But instead of actually looking at the life of Rev. King with the attention it deserves, the five-minute version has reduced the break to nothing but another Saturday. Which is likely the reason that I spent most of Monday covered in green paint (don't ask) and most of my friends were catching up on homework. But shouldn't a remembrance of Rev. King be something more than another day out of class? Around the nation, there are protests and rallies, memorial services, and the like., but the crowd is composed of mostly older people.
I'm thinking of something on a grander scale - something to make Dr. King's vision more than just a dream. Next year, instead of sleeping in or posting a late blog post (two days and counting...), let's change the world. Let's bring King's message to those who are still poor and down-trodden. Let's work together, black, white, or otherwise, for Brother Martin's dream.
Let's take his Dream to the homeless shelters and the soup kitchens. Let's take his Dream to the youth-outreach programs and inner-city playgrounds. Let's take his Dream to Tent City of Athens and the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.
"Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics —will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"