This particular blog post is not written to politicize or go into any negative or opinionated rhetoric about the events over the past few weeks. We already know the cause and underlying foundation of the protests, the looting and the civil unrest we’ve experienced. No need to go into that. But one event that sticks out in my mind is an event that occurred when I was a mere 7 years old. But I remember it like it happened yesterday. The assassination and funeral (going home ceremony) of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April, 1968.
Thinking back to that time so long ago, I ran across a pictorial blog during a Google search. It mentions that while riots and looting broke out in most cities in America as a result of his assassination, there was peace and quiet in Atlanta, Georgia. You can view the pictorial here: Keeping the Peace for Martin Luther King, Jr.
On the flip side, I remember that in New York City at that time, there were riots, fires and destruction. My father was the Assistant Manager at a grocery store in Harlem (135th Street and Lenox Avenue across from Harlem Hospital) and the only reason the store that was his place of employment wasn’t burned to the ground was because my father was friendly with many of the Black Panthers and other activists in the neighborhood who shopped at the store. Because of him, they made his place of employment safe. That similarity of the memory of the store my father managed remaining virtually untouched in New York and the peaceful, quiet reverent march of the many mourners who followed the horse-drawn wagon that carried the casket of Dr. King through the streets of Atlanta stands out in my mind all these years later.
I’m not really sure why I felt it important to write this post. It is not written to condemn protests and looting; nor is it to give it the thumbs up. But it is to acknowledge that while civil unrest broke loose all around, in the place where the man who believed peace was the answer, peace was demonstrated out of respect for him. And how it stands out in my mind that both the unrest that has recently flowed through the streets of America and the peaceful protests (much like the peaceful Dr. King mourners) are each a way to show how we feel. None of it is 100% right, yet none is wrong either. While I truly wring my hands in anguish over the negative parts of this thing, I am also fully aware that on that ugly day when all said goodbye to Dr. King, it was quiet in one place – one place in Atlanta, and one place in New York.