When I was a little girl, my father told me I was related to the great Martin Luther. (Being the non-violent and loving man that he was, and is ... I had no reason to doubt him.) And because my last name was King, I believed him wholeheartedly.
I told everybody--I was related to MLK. Can you imagine it? A little white, barefooted, blonde-headed girl running around town in the 60s, and in places in the south where there was still such things as a "colored holler" ... telling everybody who asked my name, "My name is Pamela King ... I'm related to Martin Luther King." My mother had a hard time shutting me up.
I didn't know the impact of this man at the time. But the looks on faces as I said it back then, I've never forgotten it. I address issues of race in many of my stories. I have problems with any race exhaulting itself over another in any capacity. I believe Martin Luther was a man of great spiritual authority and I believe he was one of the greatest orators of our time. But many believe that. It's not a declaration you haven't heard before - right?
But I remember the first time I heard his "I have a dream" speech. It made me cry. Even reading it, it still makes me cry. It's the most powerful speech ever written, in my opinion. I don't tear up at the Declaration of Independence, or even the Gettysburg Address. I don't believe there's another speech could ever be written as moving and soul-gripping as that one. I remember that for a period of time after hearing this speech, I wished I was black and could feel the pride he instilled in the African American race. Because as a young white girl, I felt ashamed that this type of speech ever had to be written in the first place.
Now, years later, I've realized that Martin was talking to all of us. Anyone who believes in the equality of the races can take on that speech as their own. It belongs to all of us.
"And when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children--black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants--will be able to join hands and to sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last.'" - Martin Luther King
It belongs to all of us.
He still makes me cry.
Blessings to you and yours.