By Don Lindsey
With Monday being Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it seems only fitting that my column this week focuses on this great man and the unforgettable mark he’s left on society. For me, my education on the work that MLK did started at Van Cleve Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio. I am very grateful for the diverse setting that this school provided because I got to learn early that all of us, at the end of the day, are God’s children and should be treated equally.
I can remember reading his “I have a dream” speech a couple years later at Fairview Elementary School. I believe I was around ten years old and yet somehow, even at such an early age, the words I read sent chills up my spine. When I read about the “Bloody Sunday” march on Selma, Alabama and the racism issues all over the country at the time, I couldn’t imagine how humans could be so judgmental and mean to each other.
Now that I’m a lot older and get so easily disgusted by what I see in people, I hold onto Dr. King’s work as a symbol of hope. He embodied the very things that Tammy and I try to teach our children with regards to respect for others at all times. A perfect example of this is seen very clearly in his speech that is often referred to as “how long? Not long.” Here, he states “Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience and that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man.”
Keep in mind that this was a time where black people were still being discriminated against in some of the ugliest ways possible. He could have just as easily expressed rage and demanded a change through other methods, but he chose peace. Being a man of God, he pushed peace while pointing out the injustices that those in the black communities were facing… and in a lot of ways it worked. We still celebrate his work, and his message means more today with the social climate the way it is as it did when he first took up the mantle to be an advocate for peace.
We have a lot of examples from Dr. King’s era that still live on today through people like U.S Representative John Lewis a man who had his skull fractured at the “Bloody Sunday” march mentioned earlier. He and MLK worked together with others to organize the 1963 march on Washington and he still keeps the message of peace and diversity going through his work in the House of Representatives and by being the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee, an organization that goes back to its birth in 1960. This man is only one of many who work tirelessly to fight racism and educate those who may not be aware of the problems that still exist to this day.
Racist behavior still is a problem we face, and we’ll continue to see it until we take Dr. King’s advice and support his plea for peace. When you take away skin color or ethnic backgrounds, you are left with God’s children and all of His children deserve the love and compassion that we would all like to have. So, for this Martian Luther King Jr. day on Monday, I will be taking the day to appreciate his message and will continue to teach my kids the valuable lessons I learned from him as a kid myself in elementary school. After all, no matter how bad things seem in today’s world, I know that there is still hope in our children and the lessons that they are now learning about the legendary man that was Martin Luther King.
God bless and have a great week.
Don Lindsey is a follower of Christ, son, husband, father, and a survivor. Originally from Dayton Ohio, and resident of Apopka for six years, Don sees his life as a dedication to his wife, parents, children, and community.