The Fight for Equality Goes On!

I have been inspired by Paul Walter’s excellent series on this site for Black History Month. If you have as well, I encourage you to write a blog for Black History Month and send it in.

American by birth, I am guilty of unconscious bias which permeated through my upbringing. Many people don’t recognise the racism which lies beneath the surface in the way they relate to one other. Of course overt acts of racism make the news, but it is the little interactions and assumptions which bother me, as they are unconscious and difficult to shift.

My brother and family live just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. On a recent visit to see them, I made time to take my three daughters to the Martin Luther King, Jr. birthplace in Atlanta. Getting them to appreciate the issues of racial equality/inequality, and the enormous contribution Martin Luther King made, was, I considered, a duty.

Part of the National Historic Site complex is an excellent Visitor Centre, with films and first-rate displays, including the “Children of Courage” exhibit, telling the story of the children of the Civil Rights movement and challenging our youth today.

I was especially moved by the experience of sitting in Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was baptized, ordained at the age of 19, and then co-pastor with his father, Martin Luther King, Sr.  Hearing MLK Jr.’s voice preach through the loudspeakers made history come alive, and transported us back to the 1960s in a powerful way. I went away troubled yet determined, what can I do to break down barriers and further equality?

The girls and I sat by the Eternal Flame, pictured above, and quietly reflected on the sacrifices many have made to further the causes of freedom. This is in the grounds of the King Center, established in 1968 by Dr King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

57 years ago today Martin Luther King was arrested during a sit-in demonstration at Rich’s department store in Atlanta. Almost a year later, on October 16, 1961, he met with President John F. Kennedy and urged him to issue a second Emancipation Proclamation to eliminate racial segregation. His repeated advocacy led to the U.S. Congress passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The legacy of Martin Luther King is immense. Without his leadership, self-sacrifice and determination, our world would be a different place. He and his wife are buried in front of the King Centre, on a marble island in the middle of beautiful, still, reflecting pool. The gravestone reads: “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m Free at last.”

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3 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Oct '17 - 2:35pm

    Kirstin

    I have written on here many times in response to those marvellous articles by Paul. It seems that it is continuing, in the impact ,that such a trip can make. You, like my wife, are, once upon a time , from America, so , where I share the enthusiasm of , perhaps we could call it, the amateur American, with Paul, you share that of the professional American,or real deal, with my wife ! Though she, like you, is very much Anglo American now, and is of recent part European origin, as her mother, my mother in law, fled Europe as a young refugee, to America.I love your old country, warts and all, though I do not love the warts, and dislike them more than once, for the country is more divided than in recent years I would have thought it could be, and it always was , more than Blighty !

    Of course we are all amateurs in politics , in that we start with conviction and nothing else. Martin Luther King is my greatest hero. His image , a poster of his great “Dream, ” speech, is always above my desk or in my study , or office when I have had one. His legacy lives on in more than statues and museums.

    Like you, I am as a professional in the arts, aware of the importance of creative individual expression. The musical I have written the songs for, and am developing, so related to this , the American , African American, black history and , yes, beyond with a message very widely able to communicate, is dedicated to Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

    The awful thing, Kirstin, completely unappreciated or unknown, is just how few ways there are to reach people, gain support or input, unless one fits for it and strives for it.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Oct '17 - 8:01pm

    Paul

    I have felt ,the element of musicality in his cadence, and vibrato in his voice, is like a cross between a classical actor or singer , and a traditional vicar or speaker. It is not as attack driven, or staccato , a delivery ,as many black American preachers.

    The same is the case with the substance as well as style, it is actually less preachy or judgemental, more analytical or reflective , and thus ,far less punchy, and the effect, far more poetic.

    A unique , certainly very particular ,man and minister.

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