Her wealth of wisdom and life experience to me are unmatched. I grew up listening to stories of Martin Luther King Jr. going on fishing trips with Grandaddy, how they started churches together and how they invited one another to speak at events. This information has always inspired me and at 12yrs old, shifted my vision on what blackness is vs how its seen in America. To think of these 3 black adults, in the 50’s and 60’s, each of them educated, Grandaddy had a doctorate in law and both Grandma and Martin hold doctorates in theology, chopping it up in the living room I grew up in after Sunday morning service 🤯... this has always made faith, hope, truth, authenticity and blackness, to me, empowering, necessary and beautiful.
I was taught to understand the narrative of being black in America and I was also taught that I am not defined by this narrative but get to write my own. Know the facts and exercise faith. Today is always interesting to me because it’s America’s chance to whitewash a pivotal icon within the Black Community and say “see we’re talking about MLK, we’re not racist!” When in fact the cherry picking of black leaders to save face is inherently that. MLK was hated when he was alive and immensely divisive. He was a warrior for truth. Truth that challenged the stories being told and that brought light to what was and still is intentionally kept in the shadows to sustain some and oppress others. We should honor all of him, not just the parts that make us feel comfortable.
In my life I’ve learned and the past 10months have affirmed the following: truth is divisive to those who don’t know that they don’t know. Truth is divisive to those who are complacent and value comfort over change. Truth feels like an attack to someone who has adopted ignorance as their personality. And truth in part isn’t truth at all, but a lie through omission. To those who are awake, or are looking to be stirred, truth is scary but also beautiful. Truth provides clarity, and truth is necessary for freedom. MLK stood for freedom.
So as you go about celebrating the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today. Celebrate all of him. His love for Christ, his love for all people, his celebration of blackness, his desire for equality and equity, his determination to speak the truth with love, his adoration for Coretta and his family, his willingness to be beaten and thrown in jail for his beliefs, his ability to gather millions of people to stand and fight systems that were much larger than them, and everything else he represented. Don’t just take his his quotes out of context, to do so is to place your interpretation above his truth and that’s the very thing he died fighting against. Black life mattered to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to celebrate MLK is to celebrate Black Life and to celebrate Black Life means it matters. Black lives still matter and if anything MLK is one of our greatest representations of it.
Thank you for your service, your words, your life and the fruit it still bares. Thank you for being a legend, a picture of black excellence and also a fond friend of grandma’s who shared time together on her couch and left her with stories to share with me and future generations. Happy Martin Luther King Day!