My husband, myself and my son spent Monday together to honor Martin Luther King Jr. I remember when King was alive. I remember the spirit of the people who stood behind him. I remember the leaders of the world who acknowledged him. I remember the day he was murdered.
Yesterday, we commemorated what King did in his life and in his death for us. It is true that we feel his hard work even today. During the time of King, my husband was in Africa as a young man amidst the Biafran War. I,on the other hand, lived on a midwestern dairy farm. And of course my son was just a thought. Two people from two parts of the world with two entirely different backgrounds in life came together, in part, because of King.
Because of Martin Luther King Jr. I was able to meet my husband in college. Prior to King I am not so sure we would have been at the same school. Because of King, we dared to date. It wasn’t always easy, and still isn’t easy being together today. Each day of our lives remain on guard. But this cautiousness will never keep us from being together. We have grown strong with each other. We have embraced the faith of King, and stand up to each adversity we meet.
Because of King, we married. [I admit this is a slight digression from my original thoughts, but what the heck, keep reading.] If our marriage had occurred 13 or more years earlier, it would have been a felony for us to marry due to the anti-miscegenation state laws. The term miscegenation appeared in 1863 during the American Civil War. It was a word invented by journalist to discredit the Abolitionist movement. They were trying to stir up debate over the prospect of white-black intermarriage after the abolition of slavery. Anti-miscegenation amendments were proposed in United States Congress in 1871, 1912–1913 and 1928, but were never enacted. From the 19th century into the 1950s, most US states enforced anti-miscegenation laws. From 1913 to 1948, 30 out of the 48 states did so. Finally in 1967, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Loving v. Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional. With this ruling, these laws were no longer in effect in the remaining 16 states that at the time still enforced them.
Even thirty years ago when we were married, some people were happy for us, and some were not. It is amazing how ignorance and its ugly breath spews from those who once called me family. I will be honest with you. Some of them are not welcome on my doorstep even today. I found out in life that ignorance is just an excuse that people hide behind. I have heard people say, “They don’t know any better.” I say, it is a lie. With our educational system, and the media,there is no way they don’t know better. There was a day when my uncle was telling a story in front of me and used the word “nigger.” My uncle knows right from wrong, and he knew that word was inappropriate when he said it. I decided I really didn’t need these kind of people in my life. [Sorry about the digression. Some things I can’t let go.]
Because of King, we have a child who is a precious young man. Because of King, I have been with my husband for almost 31 years. He is my love, my joy, my happiness and my best friend.
Even today we run into issues. This last summer we had a situation arise with the children that live on our cul-de-sac. My son came to the house and was very upset. I asked him what was wrong. I casually reacted because it was quite common for the local girls to gang up on him – little bullies. [One of them I swear is the spawn of Satan. Thankfully they have moved.] Anyway, my son then tells me that one of the girls called him a nigger, and he explained that she tried to disguise the word by calling him a “migger.” This was one thing I could not tolerate, especially in my own neighborhood.
I wasn’t shocked. It was no surprise this came out of that 6 year old’s mouth. At the time the girl, her sisters, a brother and their mother were living with their grandma. The grandma was in the process of handing over custody of the children to their mother. [I think you may be getting the picture here.] Over the years I had developed a pretty good relationship with the grandma. Once in a while we would share a beer and watched fireworks together on the 4th of July.
I rang their bell and the grandma came to the door. I told her what happened. I said to her, there are a lot of things I will put up with in life, but this one is not one of them. She said to me that she wouldn’t put up with it either. Immediately she went across the street to a neighbor’s house calling the little girl’s name. With her head hung low the little girl trudged past me and onto the grandmother’s steps. The grandma then called out her daughter’s name and asked her to come outside. When the daughter didn’t come, the grandma stepped in the house and talked with the daughter. I could hear the daughter say, “What do you want me to do about it?” The grandmother told her to deal with it. The daughter came out and told the girl that she was grounded. The grandma interrupted and said, “Aren’t you going to have her apologize?” The little girl turned to me and said she was sorry. I told her that I appreciated that she said this, but she needed to apologize to my son this. It is him that your words hurt. So I walked with her back to my house where my son was still upset. She apologized to him, and I walked her back to the grandmother’s house. I thanked the grandmother and told her I appreciated how she handled it. It was obvious not only did the little girl learn a lesson, but so did her mother. I suspect in this case the acorn did not fall far from the tree.
So today was a day of celebration. My husband, my son and I just wanted to be together for this day. No outside appointments. No phone calls. We spent the time being together as a family. To celebrate this day, we cooked foods from Africa. We had okra soup with fufu, and akara which was one of my favorites when I visited Africa. We listened to music from Ghana, Nigeria and Zaire. And at the end of the day we listen to Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, I Had A Dream. It truly was a good day for us.