This is my favorite picture of Martin Luther King Jr. I like that it shows him having fun. I think it is helpful to remind myself that my heroes were also mere men and women, just like you and me. They may have been a little smarter or a little braver but ultimately, they are just like you and me. I use it as a reminder that a hero is the person who is willing to stand up for something and take action against what he or she finds intolerable. The hero is a person who is willing forgo some immediate gratification for the greater long range goals. I am reminded that if I want to change something, then I have to get off my butt and do something. Something about the humanity of watching a guy having fun and playing pool begs the question, “why not me?” or “why not you?” when it comes to public service and activism for a cause. Why not you?
WHY NOT YOU?
“It is true that behavior cannot be legislated, and legislation cannot make you love me, but legislation can restrain you from lynching me, and I think that is kind of important.”–MLK, at Oberlin College, 1964.
As you know, I am living in Arkansas. Arkansas is a very interesting and disappointing place in terms of race relations. Some of the most accepting nonjudgmental inclusive people you will ever meet in your entire life live in Arkansas. Some of the most hostile bigots you will ever meet also live in Arkansas. My twitter friend Greg has already wrote an amazing post on the disappointing facebook posts of our fellow Arkansans. There is also another completely embarrassing thread of comments regarding Robert E. Lee’s birthday on the Facebook page of another television network. It just reminded me why I am a card carrying NAACP member.
The first time I went to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis I was shown a thirty minute documentary called “The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306” It documents Martin Luther King Jr.’s last days in Memphis from the view of Reverend Samuel “Billy” Kyles, one of the ministers responsible for organizing the sanitation workers’ strike and was standing right beside Dr. King when he was shot. I highly recommend you take 30 minutes to watch it.