"MY TAKE" CELEBRATING MARTIN LUTHER KING
I remember the great civil rights cultural battles of the fifties and sixties. These historic times prompted by initial interest in politics.
I watched Kings famous and inspiring “I have a dream” speech on television – perhaps the greatest speech I’ve heard in my lifetime. I remember, as an Air Force private in 1951, not being allowed entry to a restaurant in Chandler, Arizona - because I was with a black airman and a Filipino fellow airman from my band squadron at Williams Air Force Base. I remember in 1962 living off base as a Captain attending a computerized air defense system (SAGE), at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi, and having to sneak a black fellow Air Force Captain over to my home at night for a study session – because it was dangerous to have a black man seen with me in the front seat of my car, or to have a black man seen entering my home through the front door of my quarters. That same year, I remember sitting on a “colored” bus bench in Gulfport, Mississippi – and the bus driver threaten to call the cops (I hadn’t sat on the “wrong” bench deliberately – but I did “mouth off” to the bus driver, saying the bench was painted white, so I didn’t know it was “colored”).
We have made a lot of progress since those days, and it’s good to look to the future. That’s what Martin Luther King did. There remain racial inequities to be fixed, but it’s a disservice to the great Martin Luther King, and racial equality, for anyone - whatever their race - to use the “race card” for politics, to give phony credence to an issue without merit, or for other nefarious purposes. Shame on those who do that.
I believe Dr. King was a leader by example; a uniter not a divider; an optimist, not a pessimist. That’s why Martin Luther King is one of my heroes. I wish today we had people of his caliber to address racial issues today.