I was only four years old the night that Dr. King was assassinated. I have no memory of that night. My mom, three siblings and I lived with an aunt in Midland, Texas while my dad was stationed abroad in the Army. It was 1968. I had no idea of the social convulsions taking place around me: the Black Power Movement, Civil Rights, Vietnam War etc.
Images of Dr. King began to appear on my intellectual radar around age 10. I recall being in awe over the iconic images of Dr. King and others marching, of kids and adults being hosed in Alabama and of angry white mobs vilifying blacks who were trying to enroll in college. From that point on, I began to develop a social consciousness; the world slowly began to evolve for me into have and have-nots, black and white, separate and unequal.
That consciousness has stayed with me to this day. I am 51. It has nuanced to a very great degree, as I am now more able to identify the contexts in which race relations take place on the wheel of American politics.
What Dr. King means to me is positive social change and progressiveness; that we must always be willing to stand for truth and justice and not capitulate in the face of controversy. We must be willing to acknowledge our individual shortcomings but march on in the name of self-improvement and the betterment of our society. For in self-progressiveness, we improve society one person at a time.
Happy King Day everybody! Let’s work for positive change together!
W. Eric Croomes