Posts Tagged ‘MLK’

A Little Something Different…..A Life Well Lived

I’ve noticed, as I’m now well into my sixties, that a lot of people have aged and died, even though in my mind they are still as I first knew them. Bob Hope will never be the aged comedian at 100. He’s still the amazing Bob Hope who did USO tours in so many wars. Elizabeth Taylor is still Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. So when I hear that these icons of mine, these larger-than-life people that I grew up with, are dead, I’m always thinking….they seemed so young.

Martin Luther King, Jr. will always be in his forties to me. In August of 1963 I sat in front of a very grainy television screen and watched his speech. I was fifteen, intensely interested in American history, and just becoming aware of the civil rights movement. To see this man at the reflecting pool give this amazing speech had a profound effect on me. I knew he led the way in so many areas.

So I come across this posting on Facebook (the font of so many interesting items….). “The Lives They Lived.” A pretty innocuous title. What sets this article apart is that these are ordinary people who did extraordinary things in their lives. From the essay by Isabel Wilkerson:

While poring over the Web site Legacy.com to prepare this issue, we noticed a trend. A search of the site’s database — which includes obituaries from more than 750 newspapers across the country — turned up hundreds of obits published in 2011 with one phrase in common.

A single thread appears and reappears, as a headline or an afterthought, in the final words written by the families of more than 300 people who departed this earth in the past year. In each of these obituaries was a phrase that read something like this: “The first black American to . . .” or “The first African-American .”

How noble these individuals. They struggled, each in their own ways, to do something unheard of, to blaze a trail, no matter how small or insignificant it would seem. And what a loss for us all, these individuals who were the first. The first black bus driver, the first black detective, the first black woman…….They allow us to dream of what we and our children might yet do. I am overwhelmed by the loss of these people, whom I never knew – or even knew anything about them.

I am overwhelmed at those who have gone before and blazed trails. Thank you for every little bit you contributed to create a society where we could dream and achieve. And……

….may we continue to blaze those trails, to honor the work you have done to enable us to dream more and achieve more. May we never forget that.

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