What can one say that will do justice to Martin Luther King, Jr? In a word, Nothing.
In History, in hindsight, it often becomes obvious that particular individuals were ahead of their time. Dr King is certainly one of these individuals.
Growing up in the south, things are different. The history for this region of the US is marred by repeated injustice and inequality between people of African descent and those of European origin. People that reside elsewhere in the US, for the most part, don't understand this. But it's different. The tension is still here and only in time will it break, but its worth the fight and in time equality will win. I have always admired Dr King and sought to learn more when I was growing up. I knew very little about him as his life story would only be told around his birthday or during February, aka, black history month. As I grew up, made my way through college I learned more. I got older, started traveling extensively and saw more of the world outside my borders, I learned more. I now understand that some people fear what is new or different from themselves. But are we really so different? I sit here today, still not fully realizing the impact that Dr King has made on this world, never mind this country. But for what I do understand, I am eternally grateful.
I stand on the rim of fatherhood, just waiting to jump in with both feet. I wait for the arrival of my Ethiopian daughter, not knowing what life will have in store for her. What will she have interests in? What will she grow up to be? Whose life will she make a difference in? Before she has even arrived, she has already touched our lives. I wonder how many lives she will affect, how many she will change, just by being. She will change the world for a lot of people, they just may not realize it yet. Growing up in smalltown, USA, I didn't realize the affect Dr King would eventually have on my life, in retrospect, I can see it daily now.
While I cannot control the opinions of some that may judge my daughter solely on the color of her skin, or the texture of her hair, I can rest easy that their opinion of her will no longer box her in and determine who she is. Her life has upward mobility, without bounds. She can be whatever makes her happy. She can play with kids that aren't just like her, she can learn about others that aren't like her, she'll never be 'different', only not exactly like everyone else. I really dislike 'different', see, to my engineering mind, different implies separation from the mean by some distance. But what is average?
So on this day, we celebrate a man for the changes he has made in others' lives, a man that was imperfect, a man that believed what only a few ever thought was possible, a man that had the courage to speak when others did not know they could have a voice.
Dr King, nearly 47 years ago you exclaimed to us on a stage such that no one will ever forget, that you had a dream. As it was then, it is still difficult but we're still working. For as long as there exists one that shares your dream, we cannot rest. We're still dreaming Dr King...