In Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

By Wesley Chism Jr., BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: January 17, 2010

SEATTLE (BASN) — I’ve heard various comedians say, “If you are ever lost and look up at the sign and find yourself on Martin Luther King Drive, stop immediately, turn around and go back in the direction that you came from as fast as possible.”

I just don’t find that statement very funny and yet at the same time, there’s some truth to it. Often times Martin Luther King Drive isn’t in the most desirable area of the city and more likely than not in a predominantly African American neighborhood.

Have we come so far that where trivializing the contributions made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the benefit of a laugh is the norm? Where isolating the importance of his existence and the sacrifices that he made limited strictly to the African American Community?

I think not.

At times, we have the tendency to detach ourselves from the very components that have defined us as a people. We create distance and space from the ugly memories of our past not realizing the beauty in the struggle.

When Dr. King committed himself to the civil rights movement there wasn’t any turning back. Not even having his home bombed with wife and children inside could keep him from the task at hand.

From 1955 at the start of the bus boycott in Alabama until he took his last breath, each day was dedicated for the betterment of mankind. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream but at times we’ve allowed it to become a nightmare.

In 1957, a group of African American high school students, later to become know as The Little Rock Nine, were blocked from entering school by the National Guard on orders from the Governor of Arkansas.

Nowadays, it nearly takes military action to get our youth to attend school.

Our youth today have absolutely no respect for the blood, sweat and tears shed by our forefathers. The sacrifices that they made which ultimately resulted in the life of a few couldn’t stop the movement because there was always another proud young man or women in waiting ready to take their place.

I’ve sat down around the table and listened to the stories of how these individuals put themselves in harms way with no regard for their own safety. I have placed my hands on the leg and felt the scares from where the police dogs had bitten down.

Those types of conversations just aren’t happening anymore and I blame it on the parents of the youth today. The results have produced a group of lost individuals that have no idea their value, beauty or worth.

It is now often masked with tattoos on their bodies from head to toe.

“From Where I Stand” when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that one day my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I do believe that he must have seen glimpses of President Barack Obama coming just over the horizon in his dream too?

With the dawning of each new day we have the opportunity to widen the road on Martin Luther King Drive and share the experience. It’s easy to look over your shoulder and see how far we’ve come but there’s still work to do.