"Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamp!!" (but some do)
An essay at Daily Kos is making the rounds on social media right now, with the author making a case that Dr. King ended terrorism for black people in the south. While I agree with that, and I'm not really sure anybody could deny it, you could argue that what really made Dr. King's legacy possible was a very simple factor--he worked hard.
It's hard not to know the name Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2014, unless you're an actual baby or someone with dementia. But it has been said this year that many people are not clear about what one of the most famous people in history actually did for this planet. Most people probably have a good idea of what he stood for and what he spoke about during his famous speech, but that doesn't necessarily mean they know what got him to the forefront of everyone's consciousness when it comes to the civil rights movement in America, even though the answer is not that complicated. He dedicated himself to a dream that was bigger than himself, and spent his life trying to achieve it through effort and energy expenditure. It's like that old joke about "practice", exceptreedom isn't Carnegie Hall, but you don't simply arrive at either destination by bus or taxi.
One of my classmates at Morehouse, Dr. King's undergraduate alma mater, posted the following status update to his Facebook profile: "Martin Luther King, Jr. was 25 years old when he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In his honor, tonight, most 25 year olds in Atlanta will be "turnt up" in the club because they get the day off tomorrow...living the dream." My friend has a good point, and I took his statement to mean we aren't obligated to do exactly what Dr. King did, but it'd sure be nice if we honored his hard work in ways other than nursing a hangover or getting drunker than normal for a Monday.
I remember years ago starting a job in the middle of January, and all of the responsibilities and pressures of my position had dropped on my head very quickly. I had been warned that this would happen, but there's nothing like the real thing, right? Anyway, a week after I'd officially started being on the clock, I (wrongly) assumed that the company would recognize this federal holiday and not make us work. Living in Atlanta you get used to that, without even asking the question. But when I got the call that morning from my boss, who didn't even flinch when I told him I figured it was a no-brainer that we'd not work, I learned something very valuable. Some people don't stop working for MLK.
I must say it's nice to work at a place that respects the outcome of what MLK did. I'll never forget the feeling of discovering that another company expected me to get over it, and I have at least one friend who has quit his job over his boss saying in an apparently disrespectful manner (or at least that's how it was taken) that the company wouldn't be taking the day off. Funny thing is, said company caters specifically to the black community, although the boss is not black in the slightest. I won't name names, but some of you swore by her magazine for years, even though in all honesty (and with no disrespect to my friends who've worked there) the magazine to me was glossy toilet paper made by someone who clearly couldn't care less about her audience, otherwise the quality and depth of the magazine would have been greater. Hey, I guess if they eat chitlins, feed them.
Digression aside, while I don't believe companies should make their employees work for their paychecks on the MLK holiday, they should encourage service, and all of us who appreciate the man's legacy--hard work in support of human rights--should do something to honor that. I'll be at Mays High School this afternoon as part of the Urban League's Project Ready mentoring program. I hope you won't be sprawled out on your bed in need of aspirin, Sprite and more sleep because you turned up a little too high last night.
Some of us are sitting at home right now. Others of us are on the job as usual. All of us, at least today, should be doing type of work towards supporting the push for civil rights that continues in all parts of the world.
For ideas of how you can do something good today to honor Dr. King, look here.
This is where Michael B. Jordan shares his thoughts on the world with the world. Share yours back.