Monday, January 18, 2016

Holiday for Remembering

Today is a holiday. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. For me, it's day to remember not only a man, but to also remember what once was. Outside the weather is frigid. No snow means there's less reason to venture out for the children who have a day off from school. I hope that sometime today they find a personal connection to this get-out-of-school reason for remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

Growing up in the south as a member of the white community I never thought about discrimination. It was the way things were, so I didn't have a name for it. The restrictions I encountered were imposed by my parents, filtered through the sieve of society, I'm sure. I rode the bus into the city on my own by the time I was twelve and never considered the feelings of anyone forced to sit at a particular spot. I rode the school bus past black children waiting for their bus to take them to their separate school and never wondered if their schools were equal to mine.

A quote by Maya Angelo says, "You did what you had to do. When you knew better, you did better." Now that I'm grown and put away childish things (somewhat), I look back and wonder what we were thinking. As I have been working on various projects, thanks to Dr. King, I can better recognize discrimination.

One project involves the Cherokee here in western North Carolina. Generations before those who I am writing about were born, the majority of their nation was forced to move to Oklahoma in a travesty known as "The Trail of Tears," a high form of discrimination. Those who hid in the wilderness offered by the surrounding mountains are the ancestors of the eastern band of the Cherokee Nation. My connection comes through the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians that is located in downtown Cherokee, directly across from the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. (More about that project in the coming weeks as it goes to press.)

In yet another project, I am assisting a friend of a friend to self publish a book about a Mormon child who experienced horrid acts of discrimination in 1846 as his family sought to find a life where they could freely worship as they believed. (More about that project also in the coming weeks. It's already gone to press, and we're waiting for the proof as I type.)
I guess this just about says it all.
Now that I know better, my question on this 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is "Am I doing better?" Am I recognizing discrimination? Am I sitting by and allowing subtle discriminations to occur? A lesson for us all.

Catch of the day,


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