|From Wikipedia, |
ML King and LB Johnson
This post was written to contribute to Beverly Diehl's I Have A Dream - MLK Blogfest Let's Discuss Racism & Discrimination post. (Will add the link when it's up).
One of the most impressionable quotes I've taken from one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s most celebrated speeches was the dream he had when his "four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Before applying this quote in theory across a broad canvass, very early along in my journey content resonated with me. Listening to stories about my family made me curious. I found the stories about my great-great-great grandparents' character tremendously fascinating; the black African slave, the white man, and the Native American.
And then my father brought out the books, and newspaper clippings, and turned to news segments on TV that heightened my interest in character. Looking at the face of a little girl being escorted to school to help end segregation gave me great cause to pause. I wondered how she felt, what was she thinking... it was bewildering to say the least... it could have been me. Seeing pictures of crowds cheering public hangings made me question, how could anyone cheer something like that? I asked my mother about one photo of a man hanging from a tree, to which she explained some things I will never forget. The sit-ins, the demonstrations, the marches, coupled with personal experiences in my near environment of how people in my own culture treated each other; all of these raw lessons prompted me to question deeply the content of character.
I am most grateful to have experienced, whether subconsciously or by fate, an immeasurable assembly of lessons... from a heterogeneous amalgam of employment experiences and relationships (military, government, corporate, education); and the multifarious of friends I've befriended, the great mix of countries and cultures where I've lived, my eclectic reading... this sundry of associations not only has augmented my understanding of people and character, but it supplements the powerful edge behind the characters I create in my novels.
This is one area where my journey walks the talk. I celebrate black history 365-days a year. I do not judge a book by its cover. Why, just look at my own book covers. I don't like everyone, but love all people. Racism I've learned is a by-product of ignorance. It affects all of us, regardless of skin color, though not to undermine the harm of racism practiced systematically, I must re-stress the importance of learning about each other. Outside of that understanding, and congruent to my own flaws, though innate to who I am, I celebrate creativity, uniqueness, learning opportunities outside of what I'm familiar with, and of course, looking beyond what first meets the eye. This is genuinely what moves me, perhaps thanks to the impression Dr. King's quote had on me before realizing its profound impact on humanity.
Remembering Dr. King on his day.