Monday, January 19, 2015 – Dr. Martin Luther King Day – Let Freedom Ring
Before I begin I forgot to shout out to CSE whose birthday was also January 13. Hope it was a good one.
Remember when the Sears stores were called Sears and Roebuck?
Today is the celebration of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King. His date of birth is January 15 but it was moved during the Ronald Reagan administration as one of the floating federal holidays.
Every year on his birthday I either read or listen (usually both) to his I Have a Dream Speech. The Reverend King delivered the speech at The Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.
I read the speech and view it in the context of our nation today fifty-two years later. It saddens me literally to tears. While we have made great strides, there is still so much to do.
I encourage you to listen to and/or read the speech in its entirety. It is as powerful today as it was in 1963. I pulled out a few key words and phrases that I try to live by on a daily basis.
“…judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.”
“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
In light of Ferguson, Missouri and other places, this sentence rang especially hard this year. “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”
And of course there is the powerful the closing line.
“When we allow freedom to ring—when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing the words of the old Negro spiritual, Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-might, We are free at last.”
I remember learning the following lines in high school. The poem was written by the English poet Richard Lovelace. In fact, I once knew the entire poem, To Althea from Prison. He wrote them while imprisoned for questioning King Charles I and the clergy. The most quoted line from the last stanza is “Stone walls do not a prison make nor iron bars a cage.” Hatred, discrimination and social injustice also create prisons.
When I was small child I received a reprimand, probably a quick swat to the behind, and a lecture from my Mother for drinking from the “Colored” water fountain in the Sears and Roebuck. When my mother said, “That is the colored water fountain.” I replied, “I know. I wanted to see what color the water was.” You know what? It is the same for everybody who wants a drink. The water and the world should be the same for everyone – FREE. Let Freedom Ring.
Richard W. Sears and Alvah C. Roebuck founded one of the best-known business partnerships in history. The firm was incorporated as Sears, Roebuck and Company in 1893. Alvah Roebuck died June 18, 1948. He was a Black man. He could not even get a drink of water at his stores in the South.