At the writing of this edition of THE CRITICAL THINKER, I am traveling again. This time I have just left one of my favorite cities in the United States, Atlanta, Georgia; more specifically, The King Center. This was at least my fourth time touring the historical site and each time I was moved as I looked at the photos and exhibits appreciating the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many others who would not be satisfied with the status quo of the time.
As I moved through the center, I noticed how many of the adults both young and old were moved to tears as they saw photos such as that of the anguished face of Martin Luther King, Sr. (Daddy King) at the funeral of his son Martin Luther King, Jr. I also noticed the disgruntled expressions and actions of too many of our teenagers who had been brought to the center by their parents in the hopes of educating them about their past and to diminish their attitudes of entitlement; to help them understand why they cannot take for granted the liberties they have in 2008 almost 2009; to help them understand what the big deal is about Barack Obama becoming president. I witnessed parents attempting to get their children to take the exhibits seriously as they made every attempt to blow them off as just another boring meaningless tidbit that mom and dad wanted them to know. I watched as too many of our teenagers acted as if they were being tortured by having to read about the experiences or look at photos of their fore bearers who were a part of the Civil Rights Movement. I viewed all kinds of frowned faces and body language with attitude. Body language that said, “Can we hurry up so I can get on my cell phone?” “I’m missing Chris Brown’s latest video.” “I wish I was anywhere but here right now.” Oh yes, it was as if I had become a mind reader.
What came to me was here I am looking at exhibits and pictures of people who wanted “it” but could not have “it” and I was surrounded by children who could have “it” but were acting as if they didn’t want “it.” The “it” I am referring to are the freedoms and way of life that we now enjoy that did not exist for African Americans; Black people; Negroes, or whatever we referred to ourselves a little over fifty years ago.
Our youth must gain an appreciation for what it took to get to this point where they can come and go as they please; purchase anything they want to purchase from any store they would like to purchase it from; go to any school that they are academically prepared; and work in any job for which they are qualified. The recent election of President Barack Obama essentially removes any excuses for achievement by anyone of any color.
This critical thinker is humbled and oh so grateful for the actions of those being memorialized in places like The King Center because if it were not for the efforts of the people appearing in the photos and exhibits, I would not be able to do the things that I do so easily today. I am grateful to God for the spirit he placed in the Dr. Martin Luther Kings and others who died by acts of violence while preaching and promoting non-violence. Our teenagers must realize that they can never take for granted the lives lost in order for them to move forward, become successful, and enjoy what was constitutionally promised to them.
Looking forward to January 15, 2009.
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