Monday, January 17, 2011

I Have a Dream

I am resurrecting my blog and what better day than Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday? In past years, I have been lax about celebrating this important day but for some reason, this year was different. Was it the tragedy in Tucson, the overtone of racial intolerance or the rising murder rate among young blacks right here in my hometown of Oakland? I don’t now and I decided not to give it too much thought. So when I attended Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in West Oakland last Sunday and heard about their Martin Luther King, Jr. program and instead of sleeping in late, I decided to attend their 10:00am program.

Yesterday at a service at Lake Merritt UMC, where Rev. Beasley preached, several people seemed eager to tell their stories. One older white gentleman worked in Harold Washington’s office in Chicago during the struggle. A woman said her father, a minister stood against racism in their small Illinois town and remembered she was in college when King was killed and how the black students would not let her and her roommate participate in their circle of protest.

Taylor Church was packed including the balcony. As a result they opened up two more media rooms to stream in the program. I was in one of those rooms but I didn’t feel any less detached from the beautiful singing, dancing and poetry from young people of different races. I the guest speaker was Marianne Williamson of the best seller Return to Love. A quote from that book has been erroneously attributed to Nelson Mandela. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Williamson, spiritual author, lecturer and conscious woman, recalled the day she learned of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. She was a young teenager and was at home with her mother getting ready for dinner when they heard the news. They were devastated and when her father came home, the first words out of his mouth were, “Those bastards killed him.” She went on to say that some school history books have reduced the Civil Rights movement to one paragraph and there is increasingly a move to whitewash this country’s history--- it is up to us to see that is not done and to continue to carry on King’s dream.

“Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” said King. Yes, indeed, when I looked at the Oprah Show as she showed clips of previous shows, I have hope. There were the white teenagers who taunted the Little Rock Nine in 1957 and the racist who has recently adopted two black teenage boys. We have a long way to go but there is hope. I too, have a dream.

Dera R. Williams
January 17, 2011