I was raised by people from the segregated south, and in northern Indiana, they seemed pretty pleased that our little community was just as segregated. To my parents, Martin Luther King was nothing more than a pot-stirring communist and undeserving of honor.
It wasn't until I was in college when I heard the full "I Have A Dream Speech" as part of an American Government assignment. I remember sitting in the audio room of the school library, wearing those big brown headphones, and MLK's voice was booming from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I was so captivated, I listened to it over and over again. "We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence"--those are words of inspiring leadership to some, but to my parents, they were words that represented threat, not because my parents were full of hate, but because they were full of fear. They were full of misunderstanding and generations of misinformation. They were full of thoughts and ideas that are more complicated than I could understand.
Had my parents grown up in a different time in a different location with different opportunities--isolated library audio rooms where they were free to form their own opinions--they might have felt differently about Martin Luther King, and they might have thought he was deserving of at least a day off.
"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places shall be made plain, and the crooked places shall be made straight and the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."