I have always liked acquiring knowledge. Being the baby of my family, I was privy to all the books that my brothers and cousins had to read. I read much of what they read, listened to what they listened to, and learned what they had to learn. When growing up, I remember a book in our house authored by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? It was required reading for one of them. I did not read it, but I recall it being there. It is uncanny the things that I recollect from my childhood.
Last week Memphis and the nation commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King. Visiting and volunteering at the Civil Rights Museum on Wednesday, April 4, was significant to me. I was only nine at the time of his murder, but my memories spurred me to want to be present at this moment in history. Sometimes, we do not see the relevance of our history until it is too late. I have been guilty of this, but now I purpose to be focused and intentional in my walk, talk, and relationships. Remembering your history can keep you from repeatedly making the same mistakes.
The most memorable event of the day for me was the tolling bell. The bell was chimed thirty-nine times for the age of Dr. King at his death. Silence filled, yes filled, the crowd of thousands as we reminisced the slaying of this social justice and social change activist.
We have made strides in freedom, but where do we go now? We can all share in the cause of social injustices. We all may not be national leaders, but small things make a difference in your life and in the lives of others that are in your sphere of influence. By sharing our past victories and defeats, we document our history, his-stories, her-stories. Sharing the stories of the hidden figures in our lives, the regular people that took a stand, if only just once, and made a difference speaks volumes. Tell of the acts of the mothers and sisters who demanded respect when it was dangerous. Recall the bravery of the fathers and brothers who marched and were hosed, beaten and jailed. Communicate about all the unnoticed and forgotten heroes and she-roes that were ostracized just because of their skin color.
The enemies probably thought killing the dreamer, would stop the dream. But it did not. If they knew what was to come, they would not have killed Dr. King. I am a part of that dream realized and my life is a testament. Because of the dreamer, I have been afforded opportunities that did not exist when I was nine. Through a horrendous act of cowardice, a preacher with a voice, a dream, and an assignment fueled a movement.
Last week we also commemorated another death. A death that was pivotal to our Christian faith, the crucifixion of our Savior. Crucified for no crime He committed but resurrected and made eternal life available for us all. The forces of darkness thought if they killed the Savior, the crusade would end. But au contraire, the disciples were emboldened with the power of the Holy Ghost, and the gospel went to all the world.
Harriet Noel Jones