Hey everyone! I was humble by all of the blogs submitted by the Florida Flight staff and players regarding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I probably recite the mission statement of this franchise hundreds of times per month to everyone. It’s nice to see that we have an organization full of people that appreciate that mission as well. I think these MLK blogs add a unique element that is tough to find in minor league sports.
I saved my reflection for later for a specific reason. In this day and age, people have a short-term memory. We are all quick to forget things after the event is done and past. We see stores prepping for Christmas when Halloween is barely over. We all to often forget when a tragedy hits, like the Boxing Day Tsunami in Asia, the Haiti earthquake, or even Hurricane Katrina, that the rebuilding process can take decades. My thought was that if I share one more blog 2 days after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, maybe a few people would spend a little bit more time reflecting on what the celebration is all about.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my most favorite historical heroes of all time. Sure, we might not be related, but I’m quite proud to share the same last name with this man. I don’t think any of us today can fully fathom what it must have been like for this man to take such a stand during the Civil Rights Movement. I’m a workaholic myself, but I sincerely enjoy some nice quiet time, especially with my family. At the height of his movement, I’m not quite sure that Dr. King found much down time for himself, and that’s just one piece of the expensive price he paid for the United States to get to where we are today.
Of course I watched some NBA action on Monday. To my surprise, I learned something that I’m surprised I was never taught before from Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers. He was filmed giving a pre-game speech to his players, and talked about how Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not written for that day. It was straight from his heart, and he had no intention of sharing that on that day. Yet…that’s probably one of the most infamous speeches ever in American History, and quite possibly the world! Coach Rivers said that if you listen closely to the playback of that speech, you’ll hear someone in the background saying over and over again, “Tell them about the dream!” Dr. King had such a vision, and I have no doubt that vision was from God. It carried with it what many would deduce as an awful ending…being assassinated! I can’t help but wonder if we would be where we are today if Dr. King did not lose his life for the Civil Rights Movement.
I lived a unique life. I don’t talk about it much, because I’m sure it comes across as funny to many people, but I know first hand, despite being white, what it feels like to be a minority. I grew up a minority in Inkster, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. I recall noticing all of the white families migrating to different areas to live, and before I knew it, we were one of the only white families left in the neighborhood. You probably wouldn’t guess, but I use to get into fights all of the time as a young teenager. Most of the time, it was simply because I was a short, scrawny, nerdy-looking white boy that was easy to pick on. Unfortunately, I was not about to back down to anyone. My father told me early on that if I didn’t stand up for myself I would be miserable for the rest of my life…even if it meant taking a beating after mouthing back. I think that’s why I’m so competitive and feisty today. I’ve never been one to back down from anything life throws my way.
Growing up a minority has made me empathize with the plight of not just African-Americans but ALL races…all people that are put in positions where they are subjects of discrimination. I remember walking in Paintsville, Kentucky during my college days holding Florence’s (now my wife) hand at the Apple Festival. Florence and I are a biracial couple (she is from Sri Lanka). We got some brutal stares, and people were not to found of us holding hands. We never let go though. As far as we have come, we still have some challenges that I’m not sure, given the history, that we will ever get over. I’m eternally grateful for Dr. King, his message and movement, and all that he did to help instill racial equality among all citizens of the United States. I just never want to forget…I never want to stop doing my part to represent that same equality everywhere that I go.
Let us not have a short term memory. Let’s remember that complete equality is something we will probably have to strive for forever. As a self-proclaimed leader, I look around and wonder where people like Dr. King, Malcolm X, and…well, Jesus Christ and His disciples have gone. While America is treading water amidst the worst economic crisis my generation has ever seen, I see a lack of leadership. I see an America that likes comfort more than justice (and I’m guilty as charge to some degree). That’s why I try to reflect on this every chance that I get. When I die and get to heaven, I want to be able to stand before God without any talent left and be able to say that I used everything He gave me. Oh my…if only we all had that same drive, motivation and commitment! Perhaps it wouldn’t have taken 6 decades to elect a minority as the President of the United States of America.
It is my prayer is that we celebrate Dr. King’s life daily, and that we honor his mission and commitment with our own lives! Stand for equality each and every day. You never know when you might end up as a minority yourself!
Until next time…