In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I’m keeping today’s blog short. I want to spend some time thinking about why I have today off. What does it mean for a man to be assassinated for his work? A man younger than I am. Thanks to his impact and the fact that we only see him in black and white, I can forget that he was only 39 years old when he died.
It’s so easy for people who look like me to trick ourselves into believing that we don’t have a race problem in this country. Or if we do, it’s simply because we talk too much about it. Or because Obama somehow stirred it up. (I will never understand the mental gymnastics it takes to believe that, but at least 40% of our country does.)
But this is all recent history. MLK died in 1968. That’s only ten years before I was born. And contrary to what my students think, I’M NOT OLD!
The Greenville County School System, the school system that educated me and where I now teach, wasn’t desegregated until February 17, 1970.
That’s nearly 16 years after the Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional. And it wasn’t like there was a smooth transition. You would think that because of our famous southern hospitality we welcomed our fellow humans with open arms. That we plied them casseroles and sweet tea.
They were welcomed with bricks. Bricks. Children, leaving their schools to come to new ones, almost 20 years after the Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional, were welcomed with bricks. Not even fifty years ago.
So I’m going to shut up and think about the work that needs to be done and what my place in it is. Hope everyone has an impactful MLK Day. See you all back here tomorrow.