“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
My spirits were low but I dreamed something nice. In the dream Jesse and I were greeting our friend who looked like Elizabeth in traditional dress with a patterned light blue head wrap. We met in an open field and hugged for joy. I had gotten my hair done for the occasion. In the distance was a disturbance that made me uneasy. It didn’t concern me. Then I woke up.
Today I went up to the mailbox and found two great surprises on this special day, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The mail contained the usual insignificant first class advertising except for one letter. There also was the key to the parcel locker. Woo-hoo! Inside was a neatly labeled container, a gift from my awesome friend Janey in the Midwest. She sent me a delicately woven box with angel messages. It comes with a little frame and you pick an angel message and put the sayings inside the frame. The first one I chose was, “ As I travel life’s road, help me find the joy in the journey.” All the readings I’ve done for people came to fruition.
credit: Inspirations by Regina Ballard and Natalie Walker Whitlock
The second surprise was my first letter from my sister, a woman living in a super dangerous place in Africa. I have been a sponsor of Women for Women International since 2008, following the progress in education and training for women in Rwanda and other countries. I learned about the organization years ago on Oprah.
So the letter corresponded to my dream. My current sister “Elizabeth” can now write her name in English, do math, and speak some greetings in English. Her letter turned me to mush. Because of protocol I can’t reveal their identities or share details.
“I thank you for your message that you have sent me from your office.” – Elizabeth, personal communication.
I decided to go into my files to pull out a few things in honor of the 50.th The year was 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. I was ten years old and feeling somewhat bewildered because Mom was in the hospital, barely able to speak after suffering a major stroke. Her right side was affected. She survived, but was affected, afterwards her speech as altered.
As a passionate little girl I took all her early lessons to heart. She would quietly tell me that all people must be treated equally. She had me recite the Golden Rule. She referenced Shakespeare, quoting “to thine own self be true.” Standards of behavior and social etiquette remained throughout childhood-not that we didn’t rebel as all kids do. But we knew the rules and what as expected of us.
When I was struggling with something like a bike test we kids had to pass to ride our bikes to school, she would tell me a story about her own life. In one case it was an English professor who intimidated her. She told me how she triumphed in this situation and that I could also bust through my fear. All during the written and performance test for bike riding, I did my best while mentally chanting “Mommy and the English professor,” I passed.
My mother was a moderate Democrat who instilled in me a love for poetry. I heard many viewpoints being discussed during holidays and when historic events went down. Most of the heated political discussion involved my parents and often my older sister was included simply because she was older, but only by 18 months.
In 1963 I remember the murmurings about “so terrible” and then later in November the horrific news, the pall, the fervor, the hushed whispers, the images of solemn funeral processions and public displays of emotion. I remember the silence and the rounded screen of black and white television.
Five years later I watched again, April 4th, 1968… silent and bereft, my political innocence now shattered forever by King’s assassination. I knew how serious the depth of hatred and manipulation could be by those in adult world. It happened again in June with RFK’s murder. By then I attended a racially mixed high school and Cleveland had the honor of being led by one of the nations first African American mayors, Carl B. Stokes. In 1972, the infamous Watergate break in occurred. I had left home by then but would hear Mom angrily fussing over the corruption that continued in Washington. I learned if you don’t like something then get involved to change it.
We are still dreaming. We are still working. We are still singing.
“The glory of success and the shame and confusion of failure, could not be matters of indifference to me.” – Frederick Douglass Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
Today I was touched by the letter and the kindness of others.
Journal prompt 1) Write about your day.
Journal prompt 2) What do historical events mean to you? Have you attended any marches?
- Hundreds of Thousands Who Dream (journalwithsue.wordpress.com)
- March on Washington: 50 years later, has the dream been realized? (thestar.com)