every year on this day, i profess my admiration and respect for dr. martin luther king jr. i usually leave a quote as my facebook status as an attempt to showcase my hero on his very own national holiday. this year, however, i want to share with you my personal journey with him.
my understanding of the man and his legacy only really scratched the surface in middle and high school, but some of his sentiment was already pulsing through my blood.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
as a youth, i was an advocate for every cause in which i believed. when a new law was passed and aimed at teenagers, i wrote editorials to the local papers, made my own waves. in my school, i filmed a piece on animal cruelty for the school news. there were protests and sit-ins for the homeless. i wrote, i read, i talked to others every chance i got about the causes that moved me.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."- Martin Luther King Jr.
once i entered college as a sociology major, i was blessed with some amazing professors and one in particular had a deep history steeped in the civil rights movement and knowledge of many of its bigger players. to hear him talk felt far removed from education and more closely related to intrigue for me. there were videos, personal stories of his, memories shared and reading material. the words took me back to a place in time that existed before i did and yet spoke me to with power. i read a lot in those days and one of my most admired writers was dr. martin luther king jr. his books felt like they belonged in my heart's personal library. his words were and are that close to my soul.
“Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
as an adult, i've seen more darkness and ugliness than i ever knew possible, but i've also seen great light in people and actions. that light gives me hope. when my eye guy and i were considering moving to memphis, he first had to be interviewed at eye school. i came with him to check out this potential city. to occupy myself for half a day while he toured and interviewed, my first tourist stop in this new city was the civil rights museum downtown. it's a moving place with a lot of history and even some perspective worked in. since then, i've gone back several times to take people who come to visit me and i never tire of seeing and reading about those brave people who fought for what was right, including martin luther king jr.
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
my life marches on and i like to think that every year i learn. whether it be knowledge or a greater understanding of feelings, i believe i am growing. i think i am in touch with my own tolerance, weaknesses, strengths, abilities and emotions. i know there are things i can overlook that maybe i wouldn't have in my youth and others that need greater attention. i know now that there are things greater than myself and reasons to live that are so mighty they're actually worth dying for. i know there are people in my life i care enough about that for them i pray for peace for all of our world. i know that there are heros among us and sometimes those heros, like mine, still are fighting for what is right even after they are gone.
“No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they'd die for.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
thank you, martin luther king jr., for giving me courage, inspiration and hope. your legacy lives on and i am honored to be a small piece of the greater puzzle of those that are still standing with you.