Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King

Yesterday I lingered in the car to hear Martin Luther King's voice, delivering sermons, on NPR, and wished I'd been there to hear him,
glad that his voice still rings out at least one day a year.

When I returned to work there was a colleague's young daughter there and she told me she was off from school for Martin Luther King Day. "I was just listening to him speak," I said. She looked quizzically at me.

I remember when I taught second grade, hauling out my guitar for song sessions with the kids (always said you had to be under 8 to hear me play). Loved this time of year, we'd belt out "We Shall Overcome" and all the songs written about MLK, and the kids, having heard the stories of his life and work, would sing their little hearts out, fairness and equality being issues in which they were fully engaged at their age, and the singing would be an opportunity for all of our hearts to open.

Oh, and the Coretta Scott King part: Once, on a visit to Atlanta I snuck away from a conference full of English teachers to visit the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the King center, and Martin Luther King's birth house. I wandered past the black and white photos -- the horror of the fire hoses being turned on people, the dogs, so much more.
Then I sat outside for awhile on the steps. A car pulled up and Coretta Scott King stepped out of the back, such a lady. We looked at each other as she climbed the steps; she saw my face. And nodded at me, as I nodded to her, acknowledging, or so it seemed.

And now, tonight, one horror: Looking online for sites where quotes from Martin Luther King might be found I discovered that one, the address of which I will not repeat as I don't want to encourage traffic there, but at a web address one might assume is some sort of "official" Martin Luther King site, is instead operated by a white supremacist group purporting to be telling the "truth" about him and his agenda.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies
hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction
of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of

Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.

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Spring rain in the railyard, Centralia, Washington