Honoring the Legacy….Living the Dream #MLK50
by Yolanda Webb
THE year after I was born, my mother participated in a lunch counter sit-in in Mobile, Alabama. With her two little girls, she joined a chorus of other young black women and men sitting in at lunch counters from Greensboro, North Carolina down through Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama. By the end of that year those silent protesters would help to integrate restaurants in 108 cities across the country.
Now nearly 80 years old, my mother (and my father prior to his passing) would regal us with their stories of the Civil Rights movement. Over the years because of their involvement, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of the icons of those times, Andrew Young, John Lewis and Jesse Jackson to name a few.
Yet, it's the stories of the untold that have intrigued me the most. It’s in those untold stories that we can realize the ‘Beloved Community’ that Dr. King spoke so eloquently about.
For example, many of the seniors we serve here at Meritan in Memphis have stories of hope and courage that filled their lives with pride as they participated in this dream of the Beloved Community when they encountered humanity's greatest challenge and witnessed its greatest change.
The month of April marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lorraine Motel here in Memphis, and MLK50, a commerration of that event is being hosted by the National Civil Rights Museum (which was formerly the Lorraine Motel) through a series of events all year long.
I can still remember that day 50 years ago, like it was yesterday, forever cemented in the minds of those of us who understood its significance and meaning. My parents both fell silent when the news rang out. My grandmother's silent sobs permeated every room in our house. My father walking outside to dispel his anger and sadness, away from the eyes of his frightened family.
This year as we mark that turning point in America’s history we are reminded as a partner in Driving the Dream, the United Way of the Mid-South’s signature project to move citizens of Memphis and the Mid-South beyond poverty and hopelessness, that we can still realize Dr. King’s vision.
Meritan’s programs to help children, adults, the elderly and the disabled has a role in helping carry this torch forward for the Beloved Community, and I am (like you) proud to be here and be a torchbearer for this, our beloved community.
By the way, if you haven’t attended an MLK50 event...what are you waiting for?