“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Did you guys celebrate this day before we came to live with you? You know, Martian Lucia day.”
Kelel stumbled over the name, but we all knew he was talking about honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What a fascinating question, my son.
As I reflect in honesty, I suppose the short answer would be yes. And no.
Yes, we have recognized this day in the past. We’ve been moved by recordings of Dr. King’s voice bellowing passionately over radio waves. Calling forth justice through grainy video footage. Compelling people to put aside differences and dive into a dream. To shed generational layers of deep-seeded prejudice. To reject judging a man by the color of his skin. To focus instead on the content of his character.
Yes!, we proudly say. Amen to that dream becoming a reality! Thank goodness “we’ve” come so far…
But, until yesterday, I’d never actually looked into the eyes of my children and spoken directly to their tender hearts about the realities of evil in this world as it relates to bigotry and prejudice. As it relates to them.
My biological children might be teased for any number of things in this life, but most likely their skin color will not be among them.
It is a profound moment trying to explain the darkness of America’s past to one who, if born just 50 years earlier, might have been pummeled by the likes of a giant fire hose, beaten or worse, just because he wasn’t born into white privilege. Just because the pigment in her skin runs shades darker exposing her as one of a “different” color. Somehow they would be seen as less than. Unhuman. Unworthy.
To explain that families like ours were not ones to be desired. That our kitchen table would be empty of two beautiful souls that fill it with life, laughter, and love.
This country that offers a “better life” hides unworldly secrets that seem unfit for innocent ears.
My stomach churns digesting this reality.
It is one thing to imagine injustice, however nobly, as something that happens somewhere else. To someone else.
It is quite another thing entirely to suppose it could happen to you. To the ones you’ve vowed to serve and protect. To the ones who have garnered your heart.
Maybe I haven’t ever really celebrated Martin Luther King day and for that I offer my deepest apologies.
I’m sorry I’ve lived in the shade of platitudes that offer little comfort to those who face challenges I will most likely never experience in this lifetime.
Maybe this is the first of many days that will open my eyes to a deeper reality. One that transports my heart into a richer realm. To a world where all men truly are created equal.
I am now rubbing shoulders with this dreamer of a man and I am forever changed.
Saying “thank you” seems vastly inadequate for the gift you have given me.
But I thank you, nevertheless…
So, Dr.King, how might your legacy beckon me? You stood for justice, equality, the great worth of all God’s creation.
How might your unabashed, passionate pursuit of justice invite me to take a stand? What injustice do I currently see all around me? Right here, right now.
Famine. Abuse. Neglect. Curable disease. Extreme poverty. Human trafficking. And the list goes on…
I only pray your legacy inspires for such a time as this.
Lord, open my eyes. Grant me courage. Help me take that step. Both for this age and the one to come.