African-American History Month: MLK

In honor of African-American History Month, I’m going to do several posts this month about people I feel are underrated and amazing black Americans.  Just like any other moment of recognition, we should not limit our conversation of African-American culture to the month of February.  However, it is an injustice to ignore the few opportunities we get to embrace that culture, and I am proud to use my blog as a testament of that tradition.

I found an incredible poem about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today that I want to share with you.  Of course, he’s not necessarily underrated; most Americans do already know about him and are familiar with his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech.  However, it pains me that many companies and state governments no longer recognize Martin Luther King holiday as a mandatory memorium.  Outside of federal workers, there are many of us, including me, who come to work on the observed holiday without so much as a slight mention of Dr. King’s accomplishments and sacrifices.  While he was not perfect, he stood as an incredible monument to the struggle of African-Americans in the ’60’s and fought the principalities and injustices that kept black Americans shackled for generations.  Without his leadership, I believe the face of the country would be quite different; we certainly would not have a black president in our White House, that’s for sure.

It’s a morbid injustice to allow this holiday to be a “floater”, one we can decide to take (with our own leave, of course) or work.  The observation of Dr. King’s birthday should remain mandatory for every business, corporation and government office nationwide, whether or not your staff is predominantly black.  He didn’t just change the fate of black Americans; he changed the world with his indelible peace and amazing perseverance and fortitude.  To shuffle through a day to honor him without so much of a brief mention of his contribution is a saddening show of disrespect, and a man who has achieved that much deserves much more than that.

Enjoy the poem below, visit the new monument in Washington DC if you have the opportunity, and embrace African-American culture and history this month.  I certainly plan to!


Remembering A Life

By Nordette Adams

I remember him in the misted vision of toddler years
and again in girlhood, the booming voice on TV,
someone grown-ups talked about, eyelids flapped wide.
Elders huddled ’round the screen enraptured,
in fear for him, in awe.
I remember him.
His words swept the land, singing our passion.
Dogs growled in streets. Men in sheets.
Police battering my people. (Water, a weapon.)
Yet my people would rejoice … And mourn.
I remember him, a fearsome warrior crying peace,
a man—blemished by clay, the stain of sin as
any other, calling on the Rock—
Death’s sickle on his coat tails,
yet he spied glory.
Shall we walk again and remember him,
not as the Madison Aveners do,
but in solitude and hope
with acts of courage and compassion,
with lives of greater scope
carving fresh paths of righteousness?
I remember.
© Copyright January 2004 Nordette Adams

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