My most vivid memory of the murder of Dr. King? Being scared out of my mind that my Mom and Dad might not be able to make it home safely.
As a 10 year old, I certainly wasn’t aware of the political and racial issues represented by Martin Luther King. he was always in the paper and on television, but news like that was a background noise to someone that young. Some news always gets through – less than a year before Israel kicked the snot out of the Arabs, there was a war going on – but the most important things were going to school, having to practice the piano and trumpet, playing baseball and all those kid things we did before video games and iPods.
My Mom and Dad had left our place in Maroa, Illinois to go to Greenville, South Carolina with a group of teenagers who were visiting Bob Jones University to see if they wished to attend that college when they graduated. My sister was just 1 year old, my brother was 7 and my grandmother was staying there and taking care of us.
The first indication I had that something was happening was watching my Grandmother glued to the TV the next morning. Of course, in honor of the slain civil rights leader just about every American city with any sort of black population incurred riots and looting. Policemen were being shot at in the streets, cities like Chicago (very close by) were going up in flames, National Guardsmen were being called out to restore order – and my parents were about 1000 miles away. And to get back they had to go through or around lots of nice respectful rioting.
Of course, they did get back OK but that was the first time I felt the news actually affect me personally. How scared can you be when you’re afraid your Mom and Dad might get shot or not be able to get home.
I also developed a strong interest in Dr. King and his speeches – more than just “I Have A Dream”. We live in different times, but its funny that the ones who still judge people most by the color of their skin are the liberals. The conservatives have moved on (as they always do) to making sure that everyone has economic opportunity to be the best they can be regardless of their skin color. Sort of a “content of their character” thing – as Dr. King wanted.