Sunday, January 18, 2009


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as expressed in one of his most famous speeches, looked forward to a day when a man would be judged by the content of his character instead of the color of his skin. Though some who continue to operate under the mantle Dr. King was asked to wear contend that there is still much to do, I think much of what Dr. King longed to see has come.

I was born in south Mississippi in the 50s. That was a culture where the "N" word was the accepted vernacular for any dark-skinned person. I used it too. I remember a time, around first grade when I first realized that it was a word that could be used to hurt people. My family moved to Arkansas a couple of years later and as the 60s began to turn everything upside down, we struggled to let go of that word and the kind of thinking that went with it. My dad went along with the change too and taught me that God, who made us all and sent His Son Jesus to die for us all, judges us all alike. He would often remark that "there are 'good' and 'bad' in every race." That was his way, I think, of teaching me that racism was wrong and I'm glad he did.

There's a million things I could say and that have been said about this business of race and I'm just writing a blog entry, so I'll let it go with this...

Our country has a shameful mark on its history. We may never be able to look at each other without the shadow of that shared memory filtering the space between us. But considering Barack Obama will become our President this week, from my perspective, our culture has come a long, long way. And I'm happy to have seen it.


  1. So here's my question related to MLK day and Inauguration day. I almost posted this on my blog but I'm chicken and thought I'd get flamed.

    It's ironic that these two days were so close together.

    The one thing that MLK preached, as you said is that he believed that people should be identified by their character over the color of their skin. That's on Monday.

    On Tuesday, many people celebrated the swearing in of a President mostly because of the color of his skin.

    I find this inconsistent.

  2. I thought about that too. The struggling optimist in me (and it is always a struggle) likes to believe that the celebration over Obama's win, from the racial view, is the acknowledgment that the country did not vote *against* his color, as we almost certainly would have in, say, 1984. If so, then it's consistent with Dr. King's vision, I think. One step closer to a "color agnostic" world.