The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

16 January 2006

Now this is a legacy

Joe Goodwin on MLK:

To my parents' generation, Martin Luther King Jr. was either an impassioned visionary or a pain-in-the-butt rabble rouser, depending on what side of the civil rights issue you stood. To my generation, he was a man before his time, without whom the civil rights movement would barely have registered on the political scales of the South. To my son's generation, he's "that guy who made the 'I Have a Dream' speech." Kind of like how Lincoln is "that guy who wrote the Gettysburg Address" and Washington is "that guy on the one dollar bill." While my son's historical knowledge needs some shoring up, I'm encouraged by the fact that he doesn't see Dr. King as anything unusual — he's just another famous guy who did what needed to be done. In the same manner, his friends aren't black, or white, or Asian, or Hispanic, or anything else; they're just "the guys."

Which is, of course, exactly the desideratum of "I Have a Dream."

My parents grew up with racism. I grew up dreaming of the death of racism. Perhaps his is the first generation that will grow up wondering what all the fuss was about.

If we give them a chance.

Posted at 10:06 AM to Almost Yogurt

TrackBack: 1:13 PM, 16 January 2006
» Combining Observances from Diane's Stuff
As most people know today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I was reading the “fours” this morning over at and also his post Now this is a legacy, which has an excerpt from Joe Goodwin-...[read more]

I agree - it's not always easy to give them that chance.

I can talk about how smart my kid is, or how I value his opinions and self-esteem. It's quite a different thing to step back and let him exercise a little self-will, knowing that he'll fall and skin his psyche more than once. I'd like to think I do a good job at this, but I know better than to think I always do a good job.

I'm just glad that examples like this come along once in a while to validate me. :)

Posted by: Joe Goodwin at 9:33 PM on 16 January 2006

I heard yet another perspective on Martin Luther King last night on the radio. Radio host Wendy Williams (who is black) reminded me that there's always another perspective by saying "today is a day we celebrate all the things Dr. King stood for and fought for, and ultimately gave his life for. We'll talk about the philandering another time." This from a married woman who has been cheated on a time or two, to remind us that, as much as people put Dr. King on a pedestal, he *was* just a man. Men can and DO accomplish good things, even great things, and sometimes men do *stupid* things. The things that Dr. King is praised for were not things only he could have done; many people could have accomplished the same things or even more if only they had made the effort. But no one else stepped up.

(BTW I'm black, and I never put anyone on a pedestal.)

Posted by: Bryan at 2:23 PM on 17 January 2006