Two Friends on a Bus…the MLK Legacy

18 01 2010

As a kid growing up the 70s in the suburbs of Detroit, the Civil Rights movement seemed like the distant past (1o years is an eternity when you’re eight). The truth was racial equality was still very much a work in progress, especially in a community as racially divided at metro Detroit. Even though I grew up watching an African-American woman as the anchor on the evening news, the change on the street came slowly. The Civil Rights movement was moving through institutional and overt racism to subtle racism. Even today, just mention the word “8 Mile” and what comes to mind is the divisions…Divisions between communities and division between races.

As a kid, I remember being strangely drawn to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. I secretly wished I had been born 10-20 years earlier so I could have participated in the Civil Rights movement and the cause of racial equality. Even though many years have passed, I am still motivated by his powerful words, inspired by his passionate leadership…and most of all I am personally impacted by his legacy.

A couple years ago, my daughter Hannah and her 4th grade class visited The Henry Ford Museum. It was just an ordinary school field trip until one extraordinary moment. We walked inside the bus where Rosa Parks refused to get up and courageously decided to not give in. On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, by sitting down she inspired many in our nation to stand up.

Hannah and her best friend Tanesha sat down together in the EXACT SEAT where Mrs. Parks made that bold statement on equality. In that moment, tears welled up inside me. Only 50 years ago, the idea that you would judge someone “not by the color of one’s skin but the content of one’s character” was still only a dream. But these kids are living the dream. Words like integrated pools and segregation are foreign to them. They don’t see color…they only see their friend.

Are we there yet in equality? I don’t think so. Subtle racism and segregation still exists in the thoughts and actions of Americans. I believe that words of Martin Luther King that Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America. We still have a lot to do as far as equality.

But today on Martin Luther King Day, I am inspired two friends sitting together on a bus. They are living the legacy of his words…

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

“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 by the content of their character.”

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

“Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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One response

13 02 2014
rosa parks

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on information on
rosa parks. Regards

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