This is the second in a series of posts inspired by my post about how blogging on a schedule can help you keep blogging quick and painless. I suggested a "holiday post" on Tuesdays, so here's my holiday post, which actually makes more sense to categorize here under "current events". To call the time frame 40 years ago during which the nation (well, some of the nation) mourned the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a "holiday" is quite a misnomer.
One of the areas of the country that was hit hardest with riots after Dr. King was killed was the intersection of 14th & U Streets, a few miles from the 16th Street home where I grew up and where my mother still lives. Of course, I was far too young at the time to comprehend the national race war, so I don't remember what I was doing or where I was when the news flashes started. But I do remember the day of Dr. King's funeral.
I was with my younger brother at our baby sitter's house. Mrs. Harrison was huddled on her sofa crying her eyes out. The television was on, and instead of the usual cartoon fare, we saw a slow, sad processional of lots and lots of black people walking slowly down the street, crying and waving handkerchiefs and signs.
My husband tells me that, during that week, his father arrived home from work late and smelling like smoke. He'd been down at 14th & U, at the riots, witnessing one of the saddest and most shameful moments in American history.
In grade school, they told me that a man named James Earl Ray killed Dr. King, and I believed them for a long time. Now that I have seen what happens to people who speak up for justice and otherwise threaten the established order of things, I know better.
The world is what me make of it, one person at at time. By his sacrifice, Dr. King made the world a better place. And all of us, regardless of race, gender, social status, ethnicity or creed, stand in some way on his shoulders today.
You can read more about the historic U Street corridor and see a slide show of photos from then and now at NPR's website.
I am grateful to the photographers who risked their lives to take these pictures, and just as grateful to the men and women who risked theirs to rebuild the U Street corridor, one fabulous small business at a time.