MLK Remembrance

Back in 1968, I remember watching Dr. Kings's funeral procession while drifting in and out of sleep. At one point I woke up while the procession had stopped just down the street from the Ebaneezer Baptist Church. The neon cross of the church was on the right side of the screen. From that point on, whenever there was a mention of the funeral, or the assassination, I remembered that image. About twenty years later, while a member of Navy Band Orlando, I played the parade in Atlanta marking the first year that his birthday was a national holiday. It was a very long day, and I never saw so many people in my life. The parade was full of starts and stops, and I was glad to be playing piccolo that day. At one point we stopped and I happened to glance up the street, I was in the exact position that I remembered as a ten year old falling asleep in front of the television. Being a musician who was into jazz, the majority of the performers that I enjoyed and admired were black musicians. I never understood what these human beings went through until much later in my life. My admiration for these artists became stronger when I learned that these men and women created art that will last for ages, while the country that they could die fighting for, would not even let them use the same bathroom or water fountain or stay in the same hotel as a white person. My other passion was baseball, and I found it hard to believe that some teams had just integrated two or three years after I was born. What these artists and athletes went through is beyond my way of thinking. These people had to put up with the collective belief that they were inferior in every aspect of life. When I hear prejudiced people talking, it turns my stomach. Hopefully, some day, we will never have to hear or read the expression, 'who is black' after someone's name. You hardly ever hear or see the comment 'who is white' after someone's name. The land of the free doesn't ring true with me. Maybe it should be the land of the free provided you are a white, straight, Christian, with money in the bank.