I went to my moonlighting gig over the weekend, as usual. For some reason, this weekend I actually got tired. Don’t know what’s up, but I think the complete lack of days off is finally getting to me.
Thanks to the fact that I work for the state, I had today off. It’s MLK day. All over the country there are parades, special events and other things going on to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to that, there have been suspicious fires in the historic King district in Atlanta. The KKK organized some sort of public rally in Louisiana. And here in Houston, the local chapter sent out hate-filled flyers wrapped in the Sunday coupon clippers to the lawns of hundreds of North Houston homes.
Yeah. Things are really getting better.
When I was 10 or 11 the KKK had a march through downtown Houston. Back then my father still lived and worked in Houston while my mother and my sisters and I lived in Mexico. We happened to be in town visiting my father.
We knew that the march was going on. I mean, it was on all the news shows, in all the newspapers and the topic of conversation for almost everybody. We knew that the march was being held. But we forgot.
So that Saturday my mother and I took a bus in to downtown Houston to do some shopping. And found a deserted city. Police were setting up barricades. Shop owners had taped their windows. Sales clerks were scared. And the bus service had been cancelled. We had, in fact, caught the last bus going in.
My mother gave it about half a second’s thought after we figured out what a colossal mistake we had made and decided that we could afford the taxi out of there. And that’s exactly what we did.
I have never forgotten that couple of hours. I have never forgotten how scared we were just because we had brown skin. I have never forgotten that this group of men and women were free to walk through the streets of my home city and shout and chant things that called for my death and destruction, and not exactly in that order. I have never forgotten that ignorance and hatred are alive and well.
I pay tribute to Dr. King for the tremendous effort he made. For becoming the spokesperson for an entire people. For becoming a symbol in a time when entertainers have become our icons. And I remember that we need more people like him. More people like Cesar Chavez. More people like Dolores Huerta. More people to help us stand up for ourselves.
With equality and justice for all.