Not so long ago – Remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
America has lost two of its most endeared trailblazers over the last few weeks, Betty White and Sidney Poitier. At ages 99 and 94, respectively, we weren’t ready for their transition. In fact, I was bummed that Betty White was not able to hold on for a few more weeks so that she could witness all the spectaculars planned for her centennial. To put things in perspective, however, both of these dear souls were older than Dr. King would have been had he not been assassinated 53 years ago.
Dr. King would have turned 93 this year. Dr. King has been a celebrated fallen hero for most of my life. He died when my mom was in high school, before I was a twinkle in my parent’s eyes. I was eight years old when MLK Day became a national holiday. I can’t help but to think what would have happened if we had King’s influence for another 50 years? Would we be too embarrassed to be still going back and forth about voting rights? Or would his sphere of influence have dwindled down?
During the EMU MLK Keynote Address by Justin Hansford, Professor Hansford made a call to young activists to be a part of a collective. He gave the example of student activists who might become passionate about an issue and protest. The tactics for some college campuses is simply to wait it out. The group of agitators will eventually become interested in something else, become too busy to deal with it, or graduate. In that same vein, Voting Rights and Civil Rights cannot die because Dr. King is dead. In 2013, the Voting Rights Act of 1964 was gutted. Congressman John Lewis and others who were on the front lines during the civil rights era have kept that dream alive. But, they are dying off, quickly.
I said recently in an interview about my Uncle Elbert Williams, a slain Voting Rights Activist, that not only am I a descendant of Elbert Williams by blood…but also as a voter.
The King family has issued a clear call to action: all of us whom celebrate and quote Dr. King on his birthday, would push for voting rights on Tuesday.
So, here I am. Reporting for duty.