Saturday, January 12, 2019

AFTER THE HOLIDAY, WORK CONTINUES

Civil rights advocates, from the national leaders to the local communities, began a fight years ago in the United States to compel those of European heritage to stop their practices of discrimination towards those of African descent.  As history has noted, those fights were often brutal, yet those civil rights soldiers who fought the fights; who marched the marches; who protested peacefully, did not waiver in their determination to make this nation look at itself and realize it was not living up to its creed.

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, we have to recognize that change has come.  The 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 are tangible examples of progress not just for Blacks, but for society as a whole.  Community schools have improved and college education is more accessible.  There are successful Black entrepreneurs, business leaders, mayors and governors.  We have been the beneficiaries of those civil rights workers who dared to dream a reality that many understood they would never see.  Dr. King, himself, would not have imagined that a young man born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and White mother would someday be the president of the United States.

So where are we today?  Discrimination still exists.  Bigotry hasn’t been eradicated.  Prejudice still persists.  The unrest in our communities is real.  The desperation and hopeless doesn’t magically disappear with a new sunrise.  We have to find ways to help the hopeless.  We have to find ways to brighten spirits where darkness wants to reside.  We have to provide encouragement in places where people believe it can’t exist.

Those are the same challenges that those who began the fight for civil rights had to deal with.  They had to convince the hopeless, the naysayers, the desperate, and the darkened souls that things could change; that it could be better.  This is the same challenge today.  Even though there has been progress, we also know that this place is not the place it should be.  As we remember Dr. King and all of the early warriors for civil rights, understand that the push for progress is not easy.  Impediments are created solely to throttle progress.  Dr. King would tell you that.  He would also tell you that even at the darkest of night, the light of day is never very far away.  We must continue the fight.

HOW TO CELEBRATE THE MLK HOLIDAY

How should we celebrate the Dr. King Holiday?  Should we listen to choirs sing?  Should we watch dancers dance?  Should we watch 6th graders reenact the Dream Speech?  Should we listen to lectures by civil rights veterans?  Should we enjoy lunch and dinner specials at our favorite restaurant?  Should we go shopping?  Should we take the day off, or should we be of service to others? 

In pursuit of his Dream, Dr. King probably had few days off.  Fighting for civil rights has no “down time”.  Discrimination and bigotry don’t take holidays.  Dr. King’s dream was for us to have freedom of opportunity in America.  The opportunity to elect those who would serve us best.  The opportunity to be educated at the schools of our choice.  The opportunity to live where ever we wanted to live.  The opportunity to be gainfully employed.  The opportunity to start our own businesses.   The opportunity to pursue our own dreams.

Celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King is not a singular event.  Instead it is a reminder that pursuing dreams is a 24/7/365 thing.  It does not begin or end on January 15th.

The best way to celebrate the Dr. King Holiday?  Pursue Your Own Dream Everyday!

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND THE DREAM

As we mark another anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for many, the message will be that Dr. King dreamed of an America in which equal opportunity was not a slogan, but a practice in all Institutions.

One thing that I think gets missed when discussing the dreams of Dr. King is that his vision went beyond equal employment, voting rights, education, and housing.  He understood that there also needed to be equal opportunity in business development for Black Americans.  He knew that it wasn’t going to be enough just to fix the schools, or fix hiring practices; Black folk need to seek self-sufficiency through owning and operating their own businesses. 

From the early days of the Movement, Blacks have always been resourceful and successful in business, but that success was many times limited by the restraints of racism and bigotry.  As the Movement and Dr. King enlightened society about the injustices America imposed on Blacks, some things did change and opportunities began to develop.  Consider the most successful Black entrepreneurs in America, and all of them owe some portion of their success to the works of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

Today, there are more Black businesses in America than ever before, but there needs to be more.  Blacks have to continue to cultivate opportunities to be producers and not just consumers.  And Black entrepreneurs need to understand that markets are not just local; that technology allows products and services to be marketed to the world.  The more we move towards an entrepreneurial mindset, the more we are able to support each other in all of our endeavors.  From the local supermarket to the next computer app, Blacks have more opportunity to start their own businesses than it did fifty years ago.  Anyone so inclined to start their own should explore ways to take advantage of these opportunities.

Is America the fair and equal society that it should be?  Absolutely not.  Injustice still manifests itself in all institutions of American society.  Are there more opportunities for Black entrepreneurs to grow and develop businesses?  Absolutely.  I suggest to you that these opportunities were also part of Dr. King’s dream.  Growing our own helps to support our own.  So as you commemorate Dr. King’s birthday, take a moment to ask yourself “How am I pursuing my dream?”

PURSUING THE DREAM


THURSDAY APRIL 4TH, 1968


A short story for young adults about pursuing your dream in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Thursday
April 4th, 1968
A story about pursing your dream
by
S. A. Miller
It is the spring of 1968.  Moses Derrick is a senior track star at Central High School in Harriston and being a track star in Harriston is a big deal.  Moses has always dreamed of winning the City Championship in his specialty, the 100-yard dash.  Last year, he pulled his hamstring during the championship race and was unable to finish.  A year of unrelenting rehabilitation by Moses has healed the hamstring and now he is on the verge of achieving his dream.

Then on Thursday, April 4th, 1968, five days before the City Championship track meet, an   assassin’s bullet takes the life of Dr. Martin Luther King.  As Harriston and the nation mourns, Moses has to decide if he will participate in the track meet that will take place on the same day of Dr. King’s funeral.  Moses’ friends tell him he shouldn’t run.  They say it’s dishonorable to participate in a track meet on the same day that one of the most revered men who has ever lived is being laid to rest.  But, for Moses, running this race is his last chance to achieve his dream.
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