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“Let Freedom Ring"

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Desiree Strong
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Smart Operations
In November 1968, the month and year I was born, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been dead for four months. As a young girl growing up in Atlanta, Ga.; I vividly remember the curriculum for black history at E.R. Carter Elementary School.

My memories
My recollection of the old black and white films that were shown every February was enough to bring tears to my eyes and send me to bed with nightmares.

The separate water fountains "For Whites Only," the attacking dogs, the powerful spray of the water hoses from the fire hydrants, the pictures of the lynchings and the police batons striking individuals of color were my memories.

I recall for a little while I was afraid of Dr. King, afraid to look at his pictures, because wherever there was violence he seemed to appear. I didn't realize at that time that he was a representative for me, a representative for those of the past and even a representative for future generations.

In my fourth grade year I finally heard the famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In his speech, Dr. King requested, "Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy; now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood."

Equality for all
I began to understand that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a martyr, not just for African Americans, but he stood for equality for all. In a letter from Birmingham, Dr. King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea.

Join hands
Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. Dr. King's dream is what we are still trying to achieve today, Iraqis, Kurds, Kuwaitis, "Blacks, Whites, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, all will be able to join hands." Striving to achieve and never forgetting what we have accomplished thus far.

Today I tell my children of the past, and they are puzzled that racism even exists. They find it hard to believe that skin color is an issue. For example, out of curiosity I asked my youngest daughter, Destiny, are you black or white? She replied, "Mommy what a silly question, I'm brown." As we progress as a nation, we have to remember the things that we have overcome and challenge ourselves for a better future.

"Don't judge..."
We can never allow our children, black, white or any race to forget our history, because if we do, history may repeat itself, maybe not with blacks and whites but with other races or even with people whose choices are different from those of our own. "Don't judge me by the color of my skin but by the content of my character," as stated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I'm proud to say that I am not afraid anymore, but proud to be in a country where freedom rings. My pastor occasionally states that "you are born for such a time as this." I truly believe Dr. King was born for that time. God gives us what we need to get through our situations. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was full of God's grace which filled him with the courage and faith needed to overcome tremendous obstacles and challenges. Challenges that have, in my opinion, resulted in changing the course of our country for the better.

For Dr. King, his character and heart defined him; likewise, our diversity is our strength, the uniqueness each one of us brings into this world, makes us all special. I challenge everyone to take a chance and live the dream, join hands with those who we perceive to be different and enjoy the freedoms that we all have...after all our beautiful country allows us all to "Let Freedom Ring."