Monday, January 17, 2011
Shaking Hands with History
Dear Friends and Visitors,
First, I would like to pay homage to the man we are honoring today in the United States, Martin Luther King, Jr.
As I have shared before, my family is from The South, one of the places where Civil Rights was such an explosive issue in the 50's, 60's and early 70's. I was fortunate to have very forward thinking parents who supported integration in a very segregated area of the country. I took this very much for granted while growing up. Now, I know how very fortunate I was to be raised not to judge people by color.
My husband, whose family also has Southern roots, tells a wonderful story that happened to him while his father was stationed with the Air Force in Montgomery, Alabama in the mid-60's. On one Sunday morning, he and a girlfriend were wandering around downtown Montgomery and happened into the Black neighborhoods. There they heard the most incredible Gospel music coming from a particular church nearby. Of course my husband, who is completely color-blind about race, got the idea that he and his friend should go into the church and listen. Now, this was the mid-60's and the area was segregated and I don't know that a white person had ever stepped foot in this black church, but the two of them went in and sat in the back. There they listened to beautiful Gospel music followed by a rousing sermon given by a gifted guest preacher. At the end of the service, the preacher stepped down from the pulpit, exited the sanctuary and stood outside the church doors to greet and shake hands with members of the congregation as they left. Mark was among the first to shake hands, because he was in the back. So into whose hand did Mark put his to thank him for his sermon? Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Next to him stood another famous Civil Rights activist, Reverend Abernathy. Dr. King thanked Mark and his friend for coming. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that it was an exceptional opportunity which means even more to my husband now looking back, than it did when it first happened. He shook hands with History.
Today, I like to remember Dr. King for his remarkable call for peaceful demonstrations against intolerance and for each person to be judged by his or her character than by their color. Much has changed since then and much of that is due to the example of this incredible man.