My Bible teaches me, God doesn’t choose the qualified person to do extraordinary things. Rather, he qualifies the chosen. God likes to select the average Joe or Jane, transform them into powerful vessels, and then send them forth into the world, carrying your messages for all to hear. He did it with Moses; It is my belief, he did it with you as well, sir. I do not understand the depths of my Lord. I find it hard to comprehend his complex power and will. My hope is that…somehow…he makes it possible for you to see this letter and to know that your beliefs, sacrifices, and hard work were not done in vain.
Martin, I cannot imagine what life must have been like during your time here. In my day and age, I see people of all races and shades of color, working side by side, playing together, worshiping the Lord next to each other, fighting alongside each other. Today, I can walk into a restaurant, take a seat next to a white man twice my age, and order a hamburger without anyone raising a fuss. I can direct a young white child out of the street, without the threat of his parents physically harming me. In this hour of the world’s existence, our people do not see the blatant racism the way you saw it.
That is not to say racism has been abolished. It is alive and well, in my time. But as the generations continue to pass, its brash arrogance subsides a little more. Some of us actually go through an entire lifetime without ever seeing a hint of it cross our paths. But others aren’t so lucky. Hate crimes still thrive. Prejudice, although not as widespread as it used to be, is still encountered. Fear of the unknown still rules over the lives of many people who lived during your time, and pass that fear down their descendent lines. Satan is still hard at work here, Martin.
I’m sorry to say, for all of the positive strides we’ve made toward coming together since you left us, we’ve grown lackadaisical in our efforts to continue the fight for equality. Technology has spoiled us in ways you can’t possibly imagine, Martin. Our children are so busy living for self gratification; they miss the lessons of the past.
My grandpa, Lasker, was alive during your time. He experienced firsthand what it meant to be black in America, when America was clearly anti-black. Just before he passed away, I asked him what advice he’d give to my generation; what would he change, if he had more time?
“Organization,” he said to me. “You kids today have no sense of organization. You’ve forgotten the importance of coming together to fight for something; to fight for change.”
Grandpa was right. And it isn’t just blacks I’m talking about, Martin. Although we are who my grandpa had in mind, I’m talking about all of us: Black, White, Asian, Latin, Japanese, etc. We’ve somehow lost our moxie; content with the way things are now, as opposed to how they used to be. My Bible teaches me that the Israelites behaved the same way for generations, before God decided to force them into paying attention to what was really going on.
You endured such hardships for us. You performed sit-in demonstrations, marched on the White House, spoke out against the relentless engine of inequality, raised an army of non-violent followers for peace; you spent nights in jail for us, Martin. You did all of this on the belief that, one day, people of all races could participate in activity together, without the continued threat of separation. You did all of this so that blacks could have the same opportunities afford exclusively to whites. I can’t imagine how Coretta and your children were able to live with the constant threats on your life; threats brought about, simply because you were trying to change the way America’s thought process operated, in your day.
Today, we tend to forget about your sacrifices, Martin. We’re too busy Facebooking, iPoding, Skyping, watching HBO, and X-Boxing to teach our children about your hard work; work that such never be forgotten. Too many of our young, black youth are victims of the very lethargic attitudes you tried to keep us away from. The fatherless have no one to guide them. And unfortunately, many of us grown men refuse to take the time to nurture anyone who hasn’t come from our own line. These kids turn to television; they feed off of the world’s definition of entertainment; and then, they raise up the next generation to do the same. They fail to strive for anything meaningful, Martin. We’re failing you.
You stirred up, energized, and organized our people into action, Martin. Not just our people; you had a host of people of different races who believed in your cause. These people working together changed the face of the nation, over time. The proof is here. We have a black president running the fate of our nation, for the first time ever. People love him; people hate him. But he’s here. Love him or hate him, his appointment represents your hard work personified. You changed us, Martin. For all the bad we continue to endure, whether self imposed or external, we do see change. God did that through you. He chose and qualified you to usher in change. I wish you could have lived to see where we are now. We could surely use your leadership to continue the work yet to be accomplished.
Martin, my children are able to choose what they want to be in life, because of your hard work and sacrifices. My children have everything they need, because of your determination. God willing, they will never have to see a day when the color of their skin restricts their opportunities. You did that. By the sweat of your brow and the long nights spent preparing speech after speech after speech, you made it possible for my kids to have a choice in life. I cannot thank you enough for your hard work.
Someday, when my own race is over, I hope the good Lord welcomes me into his kingdom. I hope to see you there; I want to shake your hand, and thank you personally for paving a way for my family; for me. I hope from your vantage point, you can see the fruits of your hard work, Martin. Sure we have a long way to go, but you got the ball rolling.
We celebrate your life as an American holiday these days. To a lot of people, it’s just an excuse to skip another day of work. As for me, when I look into the faces of my biracial children, I remember what we’re celebrating. Thank you for everything you did for us, Martin. Happy belated Birthday, sir.