Fifty years ago, on this very evening, the same Zenith console TV set, which, five years earlier, had been my window to the spinning out of control world of Dallas, Texas… the site of President Kennedy’s assassination… was “now” providing me a similar view of Memphis, Tennessee.
My recollections are now strong… almost as if I’ve time traveled back to this tragedy. I’m once again an adolescent, age 13, home alone since my folks have gone out for the evening to watch my sister’s performance in her High School Junior Class play. I’d have eagerly tagged along with them had it not been for my body being under siege by a particularly nasty rhinovirus.
Once again, Walter Cronkite has become the bearer of bad news. Once again, his reportage focuses heavily on the death of someone so young and so vital… someone who had said so much of importance… and still needed to say so much more.
Dr. Martin Luther King had been slaughtered, silenced… cut down in his prime… by an assassin’s bullet.
I’m stunned and saddened… those identical, sinking, heavy heart, Dallas magnitude feelings now resurfacing. I had so hoped that in the five years since November 22, 1963, that America had changed… well… at least a little? But knowing that it hadn’t was sickening me far, Far, FAR more than any of my cold’s worst symptoms.
Dr. King must have already seen the sickening writing on the wall… his final speech best described as prophetic…
Senator Bobby Kennedy, a 1968 presidential candidate, delivered his from the heart speech (note how he doesn’t rely on his notes)… deemed to be his finest, ever, oratory. He also gets credited with preventing riots in Indianapolis. Many other cities… nationwide… could not make such a claim.
So, why do I, a Caucasian, feel so strongly about Dr. King? Mainly because I’m a caring, compassionate, colorblind human being.
Beyond that, I do know that poverty, too, is colorblind. I could readily identify with King’s fight to help hardworking, struggling, impoverished Americans achieve The Dream he had spoken of. After all, if there was one thing my eye witnessing my own, low income, schoolteacher parents had taught me, it was that our family of four was unduly burdened by our barely scraping by lifestyle.
To this very day, I can still vividly recall handing over seven, one dollar bills to my Dad… several years worth of my hoarded allowance money, which he had given to me… just so we could put some food on our dinner table that evening. Oh, how my hand-me-down clothing’s patches always had patches. Oh, how I remember our slumlord’s coal fired furnace that could’ve easily carbon monoxide gassed us all to death.
I could never forget (and still can never forget) all the bullies at school, who had verbally and physically assaulted me… even spitting in my face. I now ask… in some small sense… had I not had my own bitter taste as to what it was like to be singled out… profiled… discriminated against… by oppressors?
And while Dr. King’s fight was focused upon helping African-Americans, I believed his spiritual and practical messages to be universal. If ever taken to heart by the elected powers-that-be, that would’ve certainly made my own family’s life… indeed, every impoverished family’s life… better too.
Fast forwarding to more contemporary times… while it’s true it took far, Far, FAR too many
decades… no, strike that… centuries in arriving, America did wind up electing and reelecting Barack Obama as our 44th president. In my mind, this was a gleaming ray of hope that We The People were finally turning our backs on our nation’s racist past. And I’ve never been more proud to say that I had had a small part in making that a reality… by my voting for that intelligent, insightful, righteous man both in 2008 and 2012.
But now? Regrettably, America is being gutted by #45, who sucks up to both the KKK and Nazis… who takes sides with racist cops who profile and mow down innocent blacks… who lambastes pro football quarterback Colin Kaepernick who has frequently, justifiably and peaceably protested such police brutality and racial inequality by harmlessly taking a knee during the pregame playing of America’s National Anthem. Which raises the question…
Will this now ongoing, Trumpian nightmare obliterate Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream?
That’ll depend upon whether or not Democrats can regain Congressional majorities this coming November.