Happy Birthday Dr. King!

My father's old copy of the book

Today I found Martin Luther King Jr.’s book Why We Can’t Wait stuffed into an old box in the corner of my brother’s room. The old copy is the first published edition after King’s death. My father borrowed the book from the St. George Public Library, in Staten Island, NY… It never made it back.

My father, James Sr., was eight years old when King was martyred. He remembers his older sister Fran running into the house screaming, with tears streaming down her face. My aunt was a member of the local Black Panther party, and like many black Americans at that time, she, and the rest of my family, revered Dr. King.

Today is his birthday.

I’m not sure if I should light a candle, hold vigil, watch the marathon of Martin Luther King movies and documentaries on television, or sit here and reflect.

With the copy to my right, I decided that in honor of Dr. King I will stop learning about him from biographies, television, and textbooks. I will push aside my Patterson novel for two days and read Why We Can’t Wait tonight and all day tomorrow. The influence and magnitude of what he writes, even in just the introduction, perplexes me. He was brilliant beyond belief.

I’m not saying anything that isn’t widely known… but I thought today, in honor of this great man who helped truly free my people, I need to write something. Anything.

And here I am.

My grandfather was born into the Jim Crow south. My father was chased by Italian boys down the streets of Staten Island because he took the wrong way home. My grandparents had to use “Colored Only” restrooms. My ancestors were lynched, belittled (to say the least), hosed down, and shamed because of the color of their skin.

Picture I took while in DC

Without dwelling on the past, which I can truly say is still affecting us today… In 2012 we are free at last. Some progress still needs to be made but King’s vision has come to pass.

To that – I’d like to thank Dr. King for all he did for my people and this country. Because of him, and the other civil rights leaders, I am here today. I am proud to be from the same lineage that produced the greatness that was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and I am so proud of my people.

God bless and have a wonderful Sunday 🙂

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  1. Let us dream together of a better world to come.

  2. Ivanna,
    What a fantastic blog entry. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us.


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