Monday, January 19, 2009


I have thought of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. as Martin since I was a young girl. My father would sneer the title Reverend or Doctor and make it sound ugly. Part of his hateful belief that a black man could not and should not hold a title of accomplishment.

I think being raised in such a enviornment has a lot to do with the development of my voice against prejudice and injustice.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

It made it clear to me that ...

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

I will never forget Martin's speech the night before he was killed. It gave me chills that evening and still does all these years later.

... And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man.

The little white girl from a blue collar neighborhood got it then and I still get it today. It forms much of what I believe to be true. It guides my spirit when I feel lost.

And it will make tomorrow all the sweeter ...

“The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame the plight of ourselves on others -– all of that distracts us from the common challenges we face, war and poverty; injustice and inequality,” he added, drawing applause from the crowd. “We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing each other down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.” - President Obama - January 20, 2008.

I wish Martin was with us for this moment ...

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.

But then again Martin is always with us. He has been a part of the family in my heart and soul all my life ...


Bond said...

Excellent post Dianne...But of course I have come to expect that here..

Hear and win new music on Monday's on The Couch

Jeni said...

Dianne, I firmly believe Dr. King is with us -especially now, especially so tomorrow as Barack Obama takes the oath of office. His spirit is what has kept many going all these years in a quest for equality, justice. His faith shows up time and time again as progress -slow moving as it may have been over the years -has taken place.
I'm overjoyed that in my lifetime, I will see a black man inaugurated as President of this country. I've always believed we have the greatest country on earth -but one with flaws too that needed, still need, to be ironed out. But tomorrow proves that to me that "Yes, we can!"
In listening to some of Obama's speech on Saturday, as he reiterated that this is not just his job, but one that all of us have to work at, to see our country pick up the pieces, pull together -not just him but all of us -to make sure we continue on the right road in the days/years ahead.
I've said before, will repeat myself here -I don't expect miracles to happen with his becoming president. Definitely not if he is left to simply try to lead but if each of us, one by one, tries to do something, anything in our power, to keep moving forward, then and only then, can the full context of Dr. King's work be recognized.
Great post.

Dianne said...

bond - thank you! such kind words from someone I respect, means a lot to me

jeni - I didn't think I'd see it in my lifetime either.

Bob-kat said...

I hear you! He was a great man and I always got it too.

I know people who come out with the most awful prejudiced things and then openly state that they are not being so :( How do you fight such ignorance in otherwise intelligent people who are blinkered by a lifetime's belief?

The day when we stop talking about men and women, black, white (and any other colour), gay, straight etc. is the day when we have equality. To make the distinction, is in my mind the essense of the problem. We are all people adn we are all capable of so much more than our stereotype.

Pagan Sphinx said...

What a beautiful tribute, Di.

I remember in the fifth grade I chose a book to do a book report on. I don't remember the title but it had a photo of a black boy on the cover. One of the boys in my class would often sneer and say derogatory things when he passed my desk as I was reading it. I remember standing up to him and the teacher getting involved. I don't remember the exchange exactly but when I explained to the teacher what he had said, she told me gently (and she not gentle, usually) to sit down and gave the boy a good scolding.

I think I was born with this sense of justice but my father was also a man who believed in justice. He told me all about the people that fought hard for it: MLK, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, among others.

Thank you for this.

Daryl said...

As always profoundly eloquent and at the same time smack down to earth straight from the hip.

Choked me up ... but I have been very fa-klempt and expect to be joufully tearful tomorrow.

Dianne said...

bob-kat - I can always feel the people who get it :)

pagan - I can almost see that little girl - and I love her

daryl - thank you sweet Lady. I do the best I can, I'm grateful for today and tomorrow - they ease my heart and soul and mind and make all things seem possible.
I was born fa-vlempt ;)

gabrielle said...

Although Dr. King is not remembered for this speech, the one that rings truest for me, that has maintained an eerie poignancy, is the one he gave at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967 precisely one year before his death. It was called A Time to Break Silence. It was in this speech that he spoke boldly against the U.S.’s role in Vietnam and began to link the larger themes of militarism, poverty and racism. It is this Martin that I remember today.

“There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war…. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

“A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men.”

And from his last speech in Memphis,

“We've got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.”

“And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent.”

It is this Martin that I remember today. And it is his courage and vision which I hope will guide us in the days to come.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I love this line. And I love the way you have kept this great man’s light alive in your heart and made him personal in your days.
Thank you Diane for posting this and allowing us to visit our remembrances and renewed commitment to peace and justice together.

"Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."
~Dr. Martin Luther King

Jay said...

Awesome tribute Dianne. Best I've read today!

Akelamalu said...

Martin will be watching his dream come true. :)

storyteller said...

Lovely tribute and reminder for us all at this historical moment in time!
Hugs and blessings,

Tammy said...

We don't celebrate MLK day here in Canada and I really think we should.

Liberality said...

I absolutely understand where you are coming from. My step-father was racist and I could not understand why. He was liberal in many other ways but not this. And yes "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Once in a college class we had to read something from Dr. King that inspired us in front of the class. Everyone read bits and portions from the "I have a dream" speech but I read a long passage of the speech he gave the night before he was gunned down. I put a lot of emotion in my voice because it was the most moving speech I have ever heard. When I was done I realized how quiet it was and I looked around at everyone's face. They were stunned by the words and the professor had tears running down her face. I almost lost it myself. So it doesn't surprise me when I read here how this same speech affected you too. He knew...he knew.

Deborah Godin said...

Beautiful post, Dianne - yes, we are all the family of humankind, and even the family of those who live on Planet Earth. Like the First Nations people say: all my relations.

Jackie said...

Enjoy the big day tomorrow Dianne - I'll be thinking of you :)

bobbie said...

Yes, Martin is with us, Dianne. And he will be with Barack tomorrow. And he will be smiling.

I'm glad that you and I were taught by the fathers we both had. They managed through their sad examples to teach us that there was something finer. We knew it as children, and we know it now.

Kim said...

Lovely post! Really! Beautiful.

Sylvia K said...

A really beautiful, moving post. I have fought prejudice all my life, never understood it even as a child. I have written about my marrying a black man in Texas in 1965 -- well, we were actually married in CA because it was still against the law in Texas. We are all one people, as a friend use to tell me, we all put our pants on the same way, one leg at a time regardless of the color of our skin or the language we speak, or the god we worship. I taught this as a teacher and I continue to do so and will until I move from this life. Thank you for your words.

Sparkling Red said...

I look forward to seeing the changes that Obama will bring to the world. I think he can't help but disappoint some people because he's only human and people have their hopes up so very high. He doesn't have a magic wand to wave. But I think he's the best chance the Western world has had in a long time. I wish him all the best in manifesting his beautiful vision.

Dianne said...

gabrielle - every comment you leave here adds so much, thank you

jay - thank you! what a cool thing to say, made me smile

akelamalu - yes he will :)

storyteller - thank you :)

tammy - it was a struggle to have the day recognized. John McCain was one of the biggest opponents - yet one more reason I am glad he lost

liberality - from the first time I read your blog I knew we had much in common

Dianne said...

deborah - all my relations indeed

jackie - that made me smile, thank you

bobbie - we learned a hard lesson and became better people :)

kim- thank you :)

sylvia - my ex and I were in the South in 73 so I can imagine a bit what you went thru

sparkling - that was why I thought MLK's quote about progress was so fitting

Linda Reeder said...

We have Martin's words, as you so aptly displayed them. There is power in words, and you use that power well.

Travis said...

My father was a bigot, among many other ugly things. But it didn't take with me. I always thought it was so much work to create that much ugliness and hatred.

Why would I want to work that hard to be so dark and mean?

I much prefer to spend my effort in the pursuit of justice and equality, peace and tolerance, respect and dignity.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

BEAUTIFULLY said, Dianne....You write so incredibly---so movingly...And everything you said, resonates with me...(Except for my fsmily...that is where I learned aqbout evevryone being equal, and where I learned about all the inequaality that existed when I was a little girl in The 1930's, and coming up....)
I remember watching and listening to MLK that day in August, 1963, wishing I could have been right there on the mall. I watched on my little TV, this BIG BIG Important day unfold, knowing I was seeing History....I was moved then, and I am still moved today...! Thank you dear Dianne for this BEAUTIFUL Tribute....! (I have a little bit of a one on my blog today, too....)
This was a BIG BIG day today, and tomorrow....Well, WOW, WOW, WOW...It will be The Biggest, in my Lifetime!

Maithri said...

Love this post, Love Martin, Love you

bermudabluez said...

Amazing! Daryl sent me. And I'm going back to say thank you!

magiceye said...

beautiful post!

the walking man said...

One of my hopes is that them who make a living off the fostering of racial divisiveness will now have to look for other work.

Maybe we can go on to the other points of Dr. Kings life. Unity among all, equality for all (male, female, straight, gay, well educated and laborer, rich and poor.)Having the government we aspire to. Rational equanimity for our neighbors in the world. The power of Peaceful struggle over violent confrontation. To name a few.

Today has come Dianne...let's quietly hope for the sunrise to come unobstructed by the fog of euphoria.

Deb said...

My comments echo those above - a well-written post which touched the heart and souls of many. It's a great day, a day of celebration! And I so look forward to the change, to the people stepping up to the plate and working together to making that change happen ~ together!

Leendaluu said...

That was beautiful, Dianne....really lovely. Thank you.

RiverPoet said...

I, too, was one of those little white girls who "got" it, though I would never have survived with my father had I argued it with him. He was a violent and opinionated man who would not tolerate tolerance.

In my adult life, however, I have been able to openly appreciate the many gifts showered on us all by people of all races and creeds. How boring and stale the world would be without them.

Peace - D

Matt-Man said...

He's looking down and smiling and nudging the O-Man and saying, now it's time to get to work. Cheers Di!!

Dianne said...

linda r - thank you! I chose them carefully and always hope my intent comes through

travis - you should be proud of the man you became - I have so much regard and respect for you

oldold lady of the hills - I love when you call me 'Dear Dianne' - makes my heart warm
I am watching Barack come to the White House to take it back from the evil forces and I am in tears of joy

maithri - if Martin were around today he would want you by his side
hugs sweet doctor

bermudabluez - Daryl rocks! I always make her fa-klempt lol because she has such a good heart
thanks for stopping by

magiceye - thank you!

walking man - I am quietly hoping mark, holding my breath just a bit
Peace my friend

deb - I try to do my little bit! sometimes feels like spitting in the ocean but then there are comments like yours and all the others

leendaluu - thank you so much!

riverpoet - you are a kindred soul - hugs

matt-man - Obama asked his daughter what she thought it meant for him to be the first black President. Her response was - "I guess you better be a good one"

Ivanhoe said...

What a nice tribute, Di :o)
Off to secretly (I'm at work) watch the inauguration on my pc.

Mojo said...

Daryl was right. I'll have to thank her for directing me this way.

Hilary said...

Beautiful, Dianne. You shine with this post.

floreta said...

(here thru daryl as well) absolutely amazing. i love how you write your entry in between MLK's famous speech. i wish i were alive to witness this time, and this man, but i only know of his legacy. i am so proud today.

floreta said...

(here thru daryl as well) absolutely amazing. i love how you write your entry in between MLK's famous speech. i wish i were alive to witness this time, and this man, but i only know of his legacy. i am so proud today.

floreta said...

(here thru daryl as well) absolutely amazing. i love how you write your entry in between MLK's famous speech. i wish i were alive to witness this time, and this man, but i only know of his legacy. i am so proud today.

Country Girl said...

I was thinking the same thing as I watched on my computer at work today, that it was too bad that Martin couldn't see this.

But then I realized that he could.

Beautiful post today. I came via Daryl.

holly said...

okay i don't have that memory, obviously, but i *did* make my kids sit through the inaugural speech today. i was hoping they would have that 'i remember where i was' thing years from now.

hopefully they remember it as "i remember where i was when obama was inaugurated." and not "i remember where i was the night mom was shouting at me to watch barack obama. we had noodles."

but we *did* have nice little chats about it. hopefully she comes away at least *thinking* about it.

Dianne said...

ivanhoe - hope you got to see it all!

mojo - I'm not just a pretty face who takes fabulous photos ;)

hilary - you make me happy :)

floreta - thank you. and look what you are witnessing! think of what you will have to tell the youngins about this day.
and on we go florta! thank you for your visit.

country girl - when I saw all the faces of people my age and older today - all the tears and smiles - Martin was everywhere

holly - would you adopt me?

Raven said...

He really is always with us. One of the great voices of American and human history, I believe. It's wonderful that the celebration of Martin Luther King has converged with the inauguration. I have been deeply moved by the stories of particularly older generation blacks as they move into what is a new world for them. It's odd, but tomorrow seems perfectly natural and normal to me, exciting more because of the person Obama is than because he's black. Yet listening and watching it is clear that the nature of reality has changed for black Americans. How glorious!

Dianne said...

raven - glorious indeed! and I agree. Obama is Obama and that's what makes him special.

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