Thursday, January 20, 2011

Learning An Important Truth As I Celebrate Martin Luther King Day

As I wait for the journalism student from Northwestern University to interview me as a member of the Community Of One I am realizing something: I am a historic relic. Yes, at the age of 62, I am part of what's becoming a vanishing breed, one who can remember firsthand participating in the Civil Rights Movement.

Growing up in Valley Stream, New York City, I attended high school in a hotbed of defacto segregation. Because of segregated housing, only two African-American students attended my high school. My parents were part of a group that founded a fair housing committee in our suburb. I was part of the high school youth group and spent a lot of time advocating for equal rights on Long Island. We were never subjected to the dogs or the hoses or any of the violence of the South, but we faced some ostracism for our activities. I haven't been back on Long Island in many years so I don't know what Valley Stream is like now. I hope it's different than when I was growing up there.

I was fortunate to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak in person several times at rallies at Madison Square Garden and at the Island Garden. His speeches were an inspiration to all of us Black and White, young and old. I'm sure that they were a formative part of my coming of age. As I marched with the Community Of One in Evanston, Illinois, I remembered many marches that we were in to support the Civil Rights Movement in the south and to support people in nearby Malverne who were demanding bussing for integrated schools in their school district. For me, the march through Evanston was a fitting re-enactmant as we remembered how so much changed for the better within a few years in large part because of Dr. King's leadership. The Chinese have a curse: May you live in interesting times. Looking back, I feel that it was a blessing.

I feel fortunate now to live in Evanston where I could be part of the committee of the Community Of One planning this year's MLK events. We still have a way to go, but at least we're working on it. I took some pictures of the Evanston events which was a first for me technophobic as I am. I share them with you now. I think these pictures speak for themselves.

No comments: