Happy Birthday, Dr. King

Today was a beautiful day in the midst of a span of nasty weather, a perfect day for a march in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But, for the first time in many years, I selfishly left the marching to others while I participated in more recreational activities.

Ever since my employer started closing in honor of MLK, I’ve made an effort to use at least part of the day off for its intended purpose, honoring the memory of Dr. King. Without doing that, the holiday loses its meaning.

For the first few years, I participated in a march in Lexington in the morning. Then, a few years ago, Paris started having a march and service in the afternoon. I usually managed to participate in both. Today, after the cancellation of the weekend’s hunts, and with conditions not looking promising for Wednesday, I just couldn’t resist taking advantage of today’s hastily-called bye day.

As I mentioned three years ago, the Lexington celebration draws a large, diverse crowd. I really don’t feel very guilty about skipping that one this year; I’m sure I wasn’t missed.

The Paris crowd has always been much smaller (not surprising since the town is much smaller), and much blacker. Aside from a few local politicians and ministers, there are few white faces in the crowd. So I feel a little more guilty about skipping that one.

With a few exceptions, the local attitude seems to be that honoring Dr. King is a “black thing”. The community supports (or at least tolerates) the march, but feels no need to participate. I think it’s important for people to realize Dr. King’s legacy benefits all of us, that equality and civil rights are important to everybody. That’s why I think it’s important for the community to at least see some diversity in the group. But this year, I copped out because I wanted to go play.

Dr. King didn’t give his life just so people could have another paid holiday to relax and enjoy themselves. And the fact that so many people are still oblivious to his message is an indication that the work he started is a long way from being finished. I suppose that if I thought I could have accomplished something specific today, rather than just adding another face to a crowd, I would have been less likely to blow it off. Instead, I’ll just toast Dr. King here, and hope to honor him more actively next year.

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