Monday, January 18, 2010
Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Initial efforts by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. immediately post the April 4, 1968, assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were followed by combined efforts of countless others for a national MLK holiday. Finally, on November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law and the first official Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was observed on the third Monday of January 1986. (Time Magazine)
Always keeping this blog doll-related... Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has a holiday but very few dolls honor this remarkable, selfless man.
As a result, doll tributes in my collection of Dr. King total two:
Martin Luther King, Jr., Our Powerful Past Leader figure with 18-minute audio cassette and printed transcript of the original Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a Dream" speech by Olmec Toys, 1992
Martin Luther King, Jr. and His Family Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney (Dover Publications, Inc., 1993)
But I don't really need dolls to remind me of his greatness, his efforts toward promoting civil rights and equality for all Americans. I witnessed his efforts, his eloquent speeches, and unfortunately his and others' beatings, hosings, and other physical attacks and deaths (via black and white television). Because of the latter, my impressionable 1960s mind always wondered, "Why?"
I also sat on the back of the bus and didn't realize why until much later in life.
I recall a 1960s bus "sightseeing" trip with my mom and one of our neighbors. Mama and (I'll call her) Dorothy (because I honestly do not remember her name) sat together on a bench bus seat. My 5 or 6-year-old body occupied the bench seat in front of them with enough room to seat one more. A white family of 3 (father, mother, and tween son) entered the bus that had seating room for three more people -- an empty bench seat and the space next to me. I remember thinking how very silly the boy looked with his long legs dangling from his father's lap where the father preferred he sit instead of next to me. The boy, who initially approached the empty seat next to me, probably felt as ridiculous as I thought he looked and perhaps as bewildered by his father's venomous command, "You'd-better-not-sit-there!"
Fast Forward: In the early 1970s, as a product of desegregated schools, I was bused to a white high school in grades 11 and 12. In grade 12, I became an affirmative action token on my first subminimum wage-paying job as a high school senior vocational education student. In a classroom of 8 to learn what would eventually become my vocation, there were 6 white girls, 1 Hispanic, and me. Of course my academic merits as well as my African American ethnicity played a role in my entrance into the 9-month class that I left after 8 months after the instructor recommended me for a position she felt I was qualified to fill.
With this said, token or not, affirmative action or not, I as well as countless others have benefitted from Dr. King's law changing efforts and dedication to humankind.
I remember him today and thank him for his life-sacrificing dream.