Monday, January 18, 2010

Civil Rights Day

In America today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I've heard several news outlets refer to it in subtext as "Civil Rights Day."

As a social worker by trade and heart, I like the idea of expanding the day to encompass all civil rights. I don't think Dr. King would mind.

I heard him speak once on television. My grandmother liked him and I watched him with her. I remember the day he was shot. Jack and Bobby Kennedy too.

It is things like that at a very young age that shapes a person, I suppose. Due to my age at the time, all three are lumped together in my memory, as if in a short, short span of time. I'd never see anyone really shot. (In Westerns, the one guy would shoot more or less in the direction of the other, and the second guy would grab his stomach and fall down.)

This was different. This was real. When I saw their families after, I remembered what it was like when my dad died too. I felt a bond with those kids.

My grandmother, a woman who had polio and raised 13 children, told me about Rosa Parks. She talked about how a man should not ask a lady for her seat, regardless what color either of them were. That stuck with me. My grandmother had no use for the idea of colored drinking fountains and white drinking fountains, much less anything else separate like that. She said we were all God's children, and she meant it.

Had Dr. King lived, I imagine he would have expanded civil rights beyond race to gender, age, handicap, religion, and anyone else not treated fairly. So I don't think he would mind if we expanded his day to Martin Luther King, Jr. -- Civil Rights Day.

Make today a day of justice, tolerance, and most importantly -- acceptance of each other.

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