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Thank You Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr.
1/14/2015 4:17:50 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

As this nation gears up for another Dr. Martin Luther King’s celebration on Monday, the question is what and why are we celebrating? If all we are celebrating is freedom then the real reason for the Federal Holiday has become lost in its intent and has become just another day off and a day for merchants to rake in black dollars on bargain shopping day.

Contrary to public belief, Blacks are still not free.

The King holiday did not happen perchance. It was a grassroots effort. Over six million signatures were collected and presented to Congress. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that was proposed by Katie Hall of Indiana, creating the holiday on January 20, 1986.

Many states were reluctant to come on board. According to Wikipedia, Senator Jesse Helms, Republican from North Carolina, questioned Dr. King’s stand on the Viet Nam War and whether he was important enough to receive such an honor. Arizona, one of the last states on board, was boycotted and lost millions of dollars before they finally came on board. Other states delayed coming on board or even naming the holiday exclusively for Dr. King.

As a part of the grassroots effort fighting for Dr. King’s holiday, I am perplexed by the lackadaisical state of Blacks in this country. Somehow the euphoria of the gains made through Dr. King’s efforts, sacrifices and early death has dissipated as America continues to victimize and treat Black Americans as second class citizens.

If you haven’t seen the movie Selma, make sure you go and take the children. It is one of those “must see” movies not only for you but for your children. You will not leave out of the movie the same way you went in. If you don’t have a voter registration card and do not vote, Selma just might be your wake up call.

Selma is the story of Dr. King leading the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery to obtain equal voting rights. It is the story of an oppressed people who was born with the same “inalienable rights” on paper but discriminated against because they were thought of as less than human.

In the process of obtaining the right to vote, Dr. King called on people of good will across America to come join the march. They came from almost every state and nationality in the nation for a massive march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. White and Black marchers died for the right to vote and you sittin’ back talkin’ about your vote doesn’t count.

I am not a historian so I don’t know why my “inalienable rights” under the constitution was different from white “inalienable rights”. Why were Federal troops called in to protect the rights of those already guaranteed under the Constitution? Why weren’t Whites given the same stupid “literacy Test” as Blacks were subjected to? Even white registrars could not answer their own stupid questions of how many bubbles are in a bar of soap.

The state of Louisiana Literacy test had 30 questions. You had ten minutes to complete the questions and one wrong answer, you failed the test. Out of all of the asinine questions on the test, here is where I failed. “Divide a vertical line in two equal parts by bisecting it with a curved horizontal line that is only straight at its spot bisection of the vertical.” All I have to say is Lord knows I could not have been born back in the day. I might as well been dead upon arrival because they would have killed me for sure.

Do not let the 1965 Voting Rights Act and those that died be in vain. Do not fixate upon the parades, celebrations, sales and day off and do nothing to make the dream a reality. There is a nobler cause for celebration.

First, register to vote and vote in every election. Your vote does count. Then, stop the black on black murders. Stop the madness! Your ancestors did not die for the right for you to kill off each other. If young people knew their history, they would do better and live up to Dr. King’s Dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” You can’t be equal if you don’t vote. You can’t be equal killing off each other. You can’t be equal doing drugs. Are y’all listening?

Thank you Dr. King! Thank you for sacrificing your life so that I could have a better one.

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