Today is Dr. Martin Luther King day and when I woke up, I was not sure how to honor it. I had planned to go into the church for scheduled meetings, but unsure if the holiday would truly register for me. Prior to coming into the office, I went to the YMCA to do a group cycling class. I expected a large crowd due to the holiday, however there were only three of us, including the instructor Sara.
As she started the class, she told us that she had selected all the music, centered on MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Some of the songs had only a vague reference to it, but others, like U2’s Pride, were a direct reference to Dr. King’s life of service. Then, as we neared the end of the workout, she played for us a portion of the speech. The three of us kept spinning as we listened again to the familiar cadence of Dr. King’s preaching. One sentence stood out, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” That hope still resonates for me.
What also struck me during this workout was how simple a testimony this instructor gave by her selection of songs and the speech. In a simple, caring way she integrated her witness to Dr. King into her daily life as an instructor. I was impressed and thanked her for that simple act of honor. I don’t think I cycled any better than usual because of that act, but my heart was a bit lighter and joyful. The C in YMCA stood out.
Have you found ways to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?
I am very impressed with your spinning instructor. Taking the time to think about how to honor peace and social justice. I had a different experience in seeing my son’s facebook post wishing people a happy day and then saying if anyone cares. It would be easy to blame it away on the schools or the culture, but really it comes down to what have I done to ensure that my children recognize the privileges they have but also the responsibility to advocate with others for justice and peace. This afternoon will be more interesting as we talk about what it means to ‘celebrate’ MLK day.
Our culture does have a hard time knowing how to honor someone. Does taking the day off from school, where the best education about Dr. King might happen, a good idea? Or, as my daughter is experiencing today, having the first day of class in a new semester the best way to honor Dr. King?
I remember, over twenty years ago, when the Mahtomedi school district did not recognize the holiday and one student organized a protest. As soon as the buses arrived at the High School, students did not enter the building, but congregated at the flagpole and then marched about 15 blocks to the school administration office. I think over half the students participated. Eventually they came to the church looking for “sanctuary” from the cold and our youth pastor negogiated with the High School principal for the students to return to school. The admin promised there would be some kind of public recognition given to Dr. Martin Luther King later in the week. If my memory is correct the next year, Mahtomedi schools made it a holiday.
Remember me? I remember that day well. St. Andrew’s was wonderful to open their doors to us and as I recall led us in songs and prayers for peace. The next year, and for several years after, Mahtomedi had MLK recognition day. We had gospel singers and civil rights speakers come in and speak to us. That was really the way to commemorate such a great man. They started giving the day off to students and staff around 1997.
Darcy (Johnson) Metz
Darcy, Yes I remember you and thanks for reminding me again of that march. I am trying to remember exactly what year it was, around 1990 I think. Do you remember what grade you were in? Thanks.
I seem to have missed seeing this post earlier. I’m glad I saw it today. It’s great!