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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Make gentle the life of this world.


During my life, Martin Luther King's battle for desegregation was fought far away from Idaho. Though I digested what I read and heard of the news, our blue collar town was made up of white, mostly Mormon residents, farmers and the transitory migrant farm workers. On that score I could easily make the connection between poor working conditions, wage or religious discrimination. Our town had a small population of African Americans living on one side of the tracks who worshipped at a Baptist church across the highway from the Safeway store where my mother worked. I was thirteen when King gave his famous 'I have a dream' speech which opened my heart to a larger problem that I had been distracted and insulated from living out West.

When Rev. King was assassinated forty years ago this week, I was suffering from senioritis, more than ready to graduate high school the next month. It was an election year and I was excited about Senator Frank Church's reelection and Bobby Kennedy's running for president. But the word assassination had already taken up residence in my subconscious, right next door to atomic bombs. Little did I know that just a month after my graduation my hopes about the nation's future would die a slow, tortuous death in the next few years. That's when I learned one of the biggest lessons of my life: things change and then they change again. (words borrowed from Nicoloe Krauss' novel, The History of Love.)

I can recommend this particular video of Bobby Kennedy's words about the King assassination. They seem hauntingly familiar today.


Our Sunday Scribbling's prompt this week is photograph. See more photos here.

14 comments:

Granny Smith said...

And I feel like weeping all over again! What a wonderful photo to choose. What a time of hope that was.

And foolishly, perhaps, I think that maybe this time things will change. And if I'm disappointed again, I guess I'll just keep singing, "We shall overcome"!

Thank you for always making me think.

Inland Empire Girl said...

Of course I had similar experiences growing up in North Idaho except there were no African Americans.

Rena said...

Boy, things do change and then change again, don't they! Great post.

Judy Merrill-Smith said...

It was my fifth birthday, the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. He is an inspiration to me, and I find our odd, small connection more poignant with each passing year. (I watched the movie Bobby this week, as well, and wept, wept through the end.)

forgetfulone said...

This photo and your piece of writing are very thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing it.

Beatriz' suitcase contents said...

Great choice and a wonderful post. Things change, and I hope they are on their way to changing again... Hope is there.
BTW, I loved THe History of Love... wonderful book.

Old Wom Tigley said...

What a beautiful and thoughtful provoking post. It is post and sentiments like this that make me realise how wrapped up I can be in myself at times.
Tom

GreenishLady said...

Thank you for sharing that important photo and speech. We should not forget. Nowhere in the world should we forget.

Patois said...

Your post in response to that prompt was perfect. Thank you for writing of it.

Marianne said...

I was 14 and well aware (not having graduation looming in such near future)... my French teacher missed school, her grief so raw.
Beautiful post, dear friend.

Tammy said...

I wish I was old enoughh to have felt these times. I feel these great men would be very sad and vocal if alive today. Great shot for this prompt.

tumblewords said...

Reflective post! Idaho, was/is, distant from many of the world events and almost reclusive in nature. I, too, remember but the total picture didn't show up for some time! Great post!

The Alchemist said...

I remember another picture of that day. One where Rev. King is waving to the crowd and a group of white men walking below him in white shortsleeve shirts and ties beneath him. I wandered what these men were thinking and what they were doing there. Wonderful picture and wonderful memory. thanks.

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