Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Ritual

In my ultra-liberal agnostic Jewish family, attending civil rights marches and anti-war rallies was a religious ritual. During the Vietnam War, my Dad was always telling me to attend these things, just as some parents remind their kids to go to church . I've never gone on as many marches as Dad wanted, but sometimes I've turn up-- like going to church Easter Sunday when you haven't been all year.
My friend Julia Rogers persuaded me to attend yesterday's march in honor of Dr. King. For our students, he is a figure from history. We sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Young people who had not lived through the sixtes made speeches in honor of MLK, and there was a ritual reading of the "I Have a Dream" Speech. Just think-- when Dr. King made that speech, ETSU was segregated. As we did in the sixties, we joined hands and sang "We Shall Overcome." We assembled outside the Culp Center, and made a short march around campus.
The press was on hand, and there were photographers. In my student days, photographers did not hound me, nor did I seek them. But this crowd wasn't big, so it was hard to get lost. I wound up on the evening news and in the Johnson City Press (above).


nbta said...

When my son was about 7 he stood in front of his school and recited a huge section of "I Have A Dream". It was a great moment.

When he was about 15 we took him to Atlanta and visited Dr. King's church, burial site, and the museum that displayed his life. It was a great day to learn much more of his/our history.

We bought a book and a few other things while there and one special card that we keep posted in our kitchen. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr writes:

"Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's Theory of Relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermo-dynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart of grace. A soul generated by love."

Roz said...

Thanks for sharing this. Many people only know King's "I Have a Dream Speech," which is so familiar tha we don't sometimes don't hear its amazing and gracious message. King wrote many book and articles, of course. He was superbly educated.

Truly, the Civil Rights movement was a "Parting of the Waters"-- what our lay leader, Amelia Brown, calls "a God thing." Even my father, who seldom had use for religion, had tremendous respect for the faith of the people he met when marching with Dr. King.

Can you give me the source of the passage you quoted?
Which of his writings is that from?

It's wonderful!

nbta said...

Sadly, the card doesn't tell us when or where or when King wrote or said what I shared...but I would imagine it came from a sermon.

What does tomorrow mean? It is 5:30 pm here, but at home it’s 5:00 in the morning. I leave Weihai tomorrow and make a stop in Beijing. ...