Today in the United States, we are celebrating Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday. This holiday is observed on the third Monday of January and honors the slain civil rights hero. It was signed into law on November 2, 1983 by President Reagan and was first observed on January 20, 1986.
I was born and raised in Kentucky. To be honest, when the march on Washington came about in 1963, I have no memories of it at all. I was most likely spending that summer day at the local public swimming pool (although in fact, we may have already been back in school on that day). I was somewhat aware of the civil rights movement and have memories of being at the local county courthouse in my hometown, going to get a drink of water at a fountain and being stopped and sent to another water fountain a little further away. It did not register then but I understand now that it was the "colored" fountain I had first approached.
Fortunately, my hometown had managed to peacefully integrate the schools. Realistically, there was probably more angst with the folks from Berry having to go to school with the folks from Oddville, Buena Vista, Sunrise and the other county schools (and vice versa) than there was about the kids from Banneker joining us.
My freshman year at Western Kentucky University, all freshman had to attend a weekly "orientation class" where we would get together with the assigned instructor and discuss the challenges we were facing as students in 1970. One week, we entered and the instructor had set up a tape deck at his desk. We settled into our seats and quieted down. He said nothing, just started the tape and walked out. It was a recording of the "I Have a Dream" speech. To that instructor whose name is escaping me right now, I thank you for giving us so much to think about.
If you have never actually listened to this speech, please do so. As you do, try to open your heart and head both to the fact that we are really in this together. If you have heard it previously, try to remember your feelings when you first heard it. Thank you.