Do You Know What Today Is?
I'm actually disrupting my flow of work to post this. Even though I'm bogged down with luncheons, grading papers and writing, I had to say something. Several things, in fact. Today I'm on this African-American/history-makers kick. It started this morning.
Today is April 4, 2007. April 4. Does that date ring a bell by any chance? I hope so. If you're still racking your brain, I'll be gracious and let you off the hook. Today is the 39th year marking Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death. On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was killed here on the balcony of Lorraine Motel. I'll be honest and tell you that I don't think about this day often. What I do think about is why it was my city that he killed in. Why did the selfish, hatred-filled asassin have to live here? There are so many great things for which Memphis should be known for, but one of our claims to fame (?) is that we are the place of death for the greatest leader of our time.
It still bothers me. I wasn't even alive or thought of, but everytime I visit the National Civil Rights Museum I get this melancholy feeling. Walking the exact room where he slept and standing in the same spot he was killed can give you an indescribable feeling. It makes you want to ask so many questions. How can someone hate another or the progression of a people so much that he/she would take a life, hoping to keep things the same? WHY?
My mother and I were talking about it and she simply said that was the way it was supposed to be. I know that everyone has a fate and your life is already planned before you begin it, but....Dr. King was a great man and perhaps he knew his destiny. He knew what danger he was in before he crossed the Mississipp-Tennessee stateline. As sanitation workers walked down the streets of downtown Memphis with signs that stated: I AM A MAN, he knew that as he stood for them, he was standing for himself. Death, if it be the end, was okay.
That makes me feel better. Even though this is where he was killed, this is also the place where his memory lives on. There are several events around the city commemorating his life and legacy. He sacrificed so much for us, as thousands of others did, to live with rights and freedom. What are we doing with it?