January 21, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
This year will mark the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. On this day - Martin Luther King Day - I reflect longer than usual on the times we're living in. I ponder on how much has changed since his being snatched away from us on that spring day in April. And I wonder what the real possibilities are for our nation to come together. There are still so many who believe that we should not even be honoring the civil rights leader and that his legacy is not worthy of a national holiday. In 2008, you would think we would have come a lot further than this. Then again, at 30 years old, I have older siblings who were alive when Dr. King and others were still fighting for the rights of Blacks to sit in the front of the bus. That always puts things into perspective for me. It's been a long time, but then again...not so much.
With the presidential race and the mantra of change in the forefront of our minds, I can say that I am still hopeful. Many are actually tired of hearing the word change, and want to hear tangible-type strategies for real problems that we are facing at this very fragile time in American and world history. I am one of those people. But if we are already tired of hearing about change, then we've got a long way to go...and so we do. Change is what it took for Dr. King to realize the dreams of so many Americans in this country. Change is what it's going to take to get us out of the deep trouble we're in as a nation four decades later. As I listen to one of my favorite singers, Bilal, sing "A Change Is Gonna Come", it is extremely haunting. Sam Cooke made this civil rights ballad in the heart of the movement, and the meaning is extremely apparent, when you look at the times. When I listen to Bilal - a singer of my generation, sing it here - I listen with a different ear. The fact that the lyrics are still so relevant...and the song is still so haunting let's me know that a CHANGE still needs to come. And I believe it will. Thank you, Dr. King.
© 2008 WBGO