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Day for King about human race
Kudos to any of you who attended one or more of the celebrations and remembrances for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And yes, Saturday’s downtown Sylvania parade does count.
For those of you who did not, I hope you took a moment to reflect on why the third Monday of January is set aside to honor King, a civil rights advocate slain by an assassin’s bullet in 1968.
While some of you may think that the holiday is on the calendar for those who are African-American, I am here to tell you that it is. However, I also want you to know that it is for those who are white, red, yellow and brown. Dr. King did empower blacks across the nation to stand up for their rights, but he so to bring those of that color up to equal status with those who are white in color.
King’s non-violent movement was done to erase separation between the races. It should not be that individuals of a certain skin pigment in the 1950s and 1960s drink from a “colored” water foundation, while others drink from a “white” foundation.
We are all Americans. The last time I checked, our nation was blessed to be called the United States. To be “united,” we cannot have divisions based solely on the color of one’s skin.
Yes, the observance of Dr. King’s birthday Monday was about race. It was about the human race -- our human race and the generations thereafter.
That was the message I brought to those who gathered at the Syl-View Health Care Center Monday morning. Some of you reading the Sylvania Telephone were in attendance at the facility’s observance for King, while others were not so I felt obliged to reiterate and possibly expound on my comments from earlier this week.
I was deeply honored to be selected to give -- as the single-sheet program referred -- “inspirational thoughts.” Like Dr. King, the Syl-View program organizers looked beyond the color of my skin. They instead looked at my compassion I have in my heart.
Most of you reading this column have met me or at least seen me from a distance. For those who have not, the head-and-shoulders photograph that accompanies this column really is me. I am Caucasian, or in simpler terms white.
I do not rule judgment on the lives of people just because that person is black or that person is white. The only one who can truly be a judge of an individual is our Heavenly Father.
Growing up, my parents never used the words “black,” “white,” or “race” in our home. To them, people were people. Through their example, I learned that people deserved equal treatment. My parents viewed everyone as equals no matter if that person had a sizable bank account or were the poorest of the poor.
And that is how my wife Lorie and I have raised our children.
I did not use this quote during my talk Monday, but I believe it elaborates my point. Actor and comedian Denis Leary said, “Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a 2-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.”
Denis, I will add that children are born with love, and parents teach their offspring how to use that love for the better good.
As many of you know, I have multiple children – four to be exact. When placing names on our children, we didn’t do so by flipping through a major metropolitan city’s phone book and blindly pointing to a name. Nope, we wanted our children to have their own identity while knowing their name was selected with care.
In naming one of our sons, we chose the middle name of Peterson after Adrian Peterson, a man who made mincemeat of opposing defenses on the football field during his college playing days at Georgia Southern. However, it wasn’t for his record-eclipsing rushing yardage or his impressive touchdown totals that we did so. Peterson, a humble, gracious man who happens to be black, excelled in the classroom, while battling an acute speech impediment. We said that if our son Broc worked as hard in life – no matter what he chose to be -- as Adrian did to combat his stuttering, we would be very proud of our son.
Before my family moved to my home state of Georgia to live in our town of Sylvania, we lived in a South Florida city that, according to a study, was the second whitest city in America. At that time, our boys were young and both Lorie and I were working so we had to find a caring, nurturing and understanding daycare provider. We went to a couple of places, but once we had visited “the one” there was no need to go any further. Although she had six children of her own and ran a daycare, her house was immaculate.
And she adored our children. Lisa is a special lady and she just so happens to be a mother of a biracial family.
When our third child – a daughter – was born we were honored to give Tea the middle name of Elise. Part of her name is for Lisa and the other part for a lady named Elizabeth, who, despite numerous physical ailments, never complained about her pain.
By the way, Elizabeth is white.
I am not special and definitely do not claim to be, but God sees something special in me, as he does in you too. “Superman,” the man of steel himself, was given the power to see through things. While Clark Kent’s alter-ego had the ability to peer through walls, my sight allows me to break down walls – the walls of race versus race. My vision goes beyond a person’s skin to see the compassion in his or her heart.
That is the message Dr. King presented during his shortened time on this earth. That is the message we must continually embrace today and as the days move forward.
Each of us has the power to break down walls.
We must be united to overcome our vast economic obstacles. We must be united to bring more industry to our community. We must be united to provide comfort to our neighbors in need.
As I did with those at Syl-View Monday, I searched through the thousands of quotes made by Dr. King, but I believe probably his shortest one shouts loudest from the mountain top.
I leave you with this and be ever so mindful to its truth –
“The time is always right to do what is right.” -- Martin Luther King Jr.
Enoch Autry is the publisher-editor of the Sylvania Telephone.