|On April 4, 1968, I was in a barbershop late in the day. My father took|
|me for a haircut and while I was waiting, a bulletin came in on the news to
explain that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed. I was only 14
years old. What I remember the most was that my dad said “why can’t
people just vote against someone? Why do they have to kill anyone?” That
is a good question even today.
|When I later visited the tombstone of Dr. King it was a very solemn
experience for me. To think for a minute about the causes that he stood for,
and how much courage he had, especially to stand up for people who could
not defend themselves, is amazing.
|Not everyone was so excited. I taught Management at the University
of Dallas for 19 years before my stroke hit me. It was only two years ago
that the school decided to observe the holiday.
|It is also true that President Ronald Reagan was opposed to the
holiday, claiming that if we have any more, why do people need to go to
work? On the floor of the U.S. Senate, without evidence, Jesse Helms
claimed that King was a communist supporter. When asked, Reagan said
“we will know in about 35 years won’t we,” talking about when the
|ceremonial capsule would be unsealed. However, under pressure, Reagan
capitulated in the final months of 1983. He sat on the White House lawn and
signed a bill establishing a federal holiday for a man he had spent the
previous two decades opposing. What did they do? They sang “We Shall
Overcome,” which was very appropriate for the occasion.
|It is impossible to cover everything he did, and what he was, in this
space. Dr. King was known as an activist and minister who promoted and
organized nonviolent protests. He played a pivotal role in advancing civil
rights in America. Dr. King won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to fight
racial inequality in a non-violent matter.