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You know what they say about those who forget their history, right? They’re doomed to repeat it.
At Saturday night’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reception at the Imani Center, the message was clear. Have the youth forgotten about the struggles of King and about the Civil Rights movement?
As I scanned the crowd, which was much smaller than usual, I couldn’t help but notice that there were few children in attendance. The crowd wasn’t very diverse either.
King changed the world for all of us. He helped tear down the walls of segregation, putting an end to what I believe to be the ugliest era of U.S. history.
However, when segregation ended, racism didn’t.
In 1993, I started my senior year in high school in my eastern Kentucky hometown. That same year, a black kid started his freshman year. He was the only black kid in school.
For the most part, he got along with everyone. But, there were a few kids who resorted to racial slurs when he walked by. Soon enough, words turned to fists.
Several others, including myself, stood up for him when we saw what was happening. More often than not, I would find myself mixed up in the fist fight. Not exactly the best way to resolve differences, but have you ever tried to reason with a teenaged racist hillbilly? They are just as adverse to reason as they are shirtsleeves.
As the year progressed, the thugs began to ease up and eventually stopped the attacks altogether, as far as I know.
That was nearly 20 years ago (has it really been that long?). I would like to think that things have changed today. I’m sure that in parts of the U.S., things have changed. I would like to think that children today have no racist thoughts circling around in their minds.
I don’t know. But, the fact is, even if racism becomes purely a thing of the past, we must never forget King. We must never forget what he did, the sacrifices he made.
And to those who judge others by the color of their skin, just remember one thing. The time will come, when you reach those pearly gates, and you are judged by how you lived your life. What do you think your judgment will be?