Monday, January 17, 2011

Honoring a hero

Today is a day set aside to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest heroes of our nation.

Daniel and I were planning to go to the Museum of African American History here in Detroit today for the special events they were holding, but some things came up and we weren't able to go. Instead we watched Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington online. I don't know how much Daniel understood, but I did tell him who he was watching and why he was so important.

We also listened to his speech from the Great March on Detroit a few months earlier on the radio. This speech had the first version of the famous "I Have a Dream" section. I didn't know that until today. That speech was particularly inspiring to me today (you can see the text here), especially hearing his challenges directly to the people of Detroit. In our city and in our country, we have come a long ways, but we still have so far left to go.

I don't have any insightful commentary to share, just my desire to see justice in our land. Please don't be complacent. So many people see a black president and think that everything is okay now. It is not. The longer I live as a white woman in this predominantly African-American community, the more I see lingering injustice, pervasive racism and realize just how deep the wounds go. And I can only see and understand a tiny bit of it. I've been confronted with my own prejudices that I didn't know were still there. But day by day, I seek to grow in truth and grace, to be transformed in my mind and heart.

Sometimes it's hard as a white person to know what to do, to know how to change yourself and this society. But I just want to encourage you today to do something. Talk to your children about the legacy of Dr. King. Help them to see where racism and injustice persist. Help them find ways to build bridges. Examine yourself, your thoughts and your interactions. What are you modeling for your children and others around you? What messages do you give them through your words and actions? What are you doing to overcome racism and injustice?

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