The True Legacy of MLK (Flavor of the Week)


The True Legacy of MLK

In 1988 my family moved from Riverdale, Georgia to Suwanee, Georgia. I was six years old at the time and did not fully appreciate or understand the significance of this 50 mile trek from the southern suburbs of Atlanta to the northeast suburbs. Riverdale was a predominantly black neighborhood while Suwanee was predominantly white. To prepare me for this change my mother gave me two children’s books to read. One was on the childhood of Martin Luther King Jr. and the other was based on the Disney movie The Fox & the Hound.

The Fox & the Hound is a story of two friends who did not know they were supposed to be enemies. Tod was a young fox adopted by a kindly farmer living next door to a hunter who owned a pup hound, Copper. They immediately became friends but because Copper was a hound dog, who would eventually hunt foxes, he was encouraged to end his friendship with Tod though they swore to be “friends forever”. As they reached maturity, they went their separate ways and became natural enemies but in a series of events, the depth and importance of their bond was shown to have never died.

When MLK was a young boy, he had a white friend he’d known since the age of three. They grew up together as childhood friends as the boys father owned a store across the street from Martin’s house. At the age of six they entered separate, segregated, schools and their friendship slowly began to fall apart as the boy’s father eventually encouraged them to no longer play together. Confused, Martin spoke to his parents about this event and they explained to him the problem of race in the country. In light of this, Martin began to hate white people and the system that had taken his best friend away from him but his parents convinced him it was his duty as a Christian to love all though segregation would remain a condition he refused to accept.

For good reason my mother exposed me to these two stories after our move to Suwanee though it was not until I grew into adulthood that I would truly appreciate the gesture and significance of my mother’s actions. Martin Luther King Jr. is known for his involvement in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement which led to the legal end of racial segregation and discrimination in America and established Voting Rights for African-Americans across the South. He boycotted the Montgomery bus system, wrote a powerful letter from a Birmingham jail and organized the march from Selma but just as significant as any of those stories is his tale of a friendship lost.

Even in Martin’s most iconic I Have a Dream speech, the sentiment for that friendship echoes in his words, “I have a dream one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers”. Racial equality was absolutely the main fixture of his dream but that dream was motivated by thoughts of an enduring friendship left unbroken by the trivialities of physical appearance. Due to this I’ve grown to understand his fight was not just for a single group of people but his fight was to give all the opportunity to know, love and befriend whom ever they choose without regard to their ethnicity, race or social class.

As a result of Martin Luther King’s actions and dream, I had the opportunity to grow up in Gwinnett which is now the most diverse county in Georgia and the South. I had the opportunity to make lifelong friends from Suwanee in which a generation before my birth could have never happened. I personally know friends from Germany, Peru, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Australia, Paraguay, Colombia, Guatemala, Cameroon, Nigeria, Bulgaria, South Africa, Great Britain, Ireland, South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, El Salvador, Mexico, Iraq, Romania, India, Barbados, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Jamaica because I’ve been fortunate enough to live a dream where the innocence and gift of children playing is not torn apart by the prejudices and divisions of a segregated society. This is the true legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

If you enjoyed today’s Flavor of the Week you should check out some of my other post including the quintessential Big Boi Album, my thoughts on the Confederate Flag or learn more about the musical mythology Soul of Suw, which was inspired by the music of OutKast. Also if you like you can join our facebook group or sign up for our newsletter to receive a notification for the next Flavor of the Week and stay posted on future book releases including the recent ones in our store.

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