Monday, January 16, 2012

Remembering Dr. King


by Vicki Doudera

I’m five years old, a precocious little blonde girl who wears smocked dresses and saddle shoes, meeting my father at New Jersey’s Newark Airport as he returns from a business trip. He gives me a hug and I smell his Old Spice. Then he notices someone attracting a crowd and pulls me by the hand. “Come here,” he says to me. “Come and see this important man.”

The dark-suited circle of tall people parts and I’m looking into the face of a smiling black man. My father says something to him, he nods, and then we’re walking away from the crowds and back to my mother.

”Who was that?” I ask, trying to match my father’s long strides.

“Martin Luther King, Jr.,” he says.


Of course, I had no idea that Dr. King was a Nobel Prize winner, nor that he’d won Time’s “Man of the Year” for 1963, nor that he’d given a speech to 200,000 at the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom.  It was many years before I realized the significance of that chance encounter in the busy terminal. But I did know one thing: I’d looked into the man’s face, and, young as I was, I saw something there that gave me hope.


“When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last.’”

Who can listen to those lines, or read King’s ‘Mountaintop’ speech or his letter from the Birmingham jail and not feel awe? A third-generation Baptist minister, King was a truly gifted orator, but he was also an incredible writer.

Today we honor this man’s accomplishments, letting his words remind us that our pens can be mighty instruments of peace. They can be used to affect positive change in the world, and persuade others to open their hearts.

women build vicki,  mom and lex

In the spirit of Dr. King, in what ways do you use your words – and your time -- for good?


Vicki writes the Darby Farr Mystery Series featuring a crime-solving, deal-making real estate agent. She serves as President of her local Habitat affiliate, Midcoast Habitat for Humanity.


Robin Allen said...

I certainly don't do as much as I could--my formative years were during the Me Decade--but I'm starting to do more. I volunteer at the library and mentor a couple of unpublished writers. I hope to give more of my time this year.

Keith Raffel said...

What a terrific memory, Vicki. Thanks.

Cricket McRae said...

Vicki, what a thrill to have met the man himself! Your post is downright inspiring.

Shannon Baker said...

Thanks for reminding me why we celebrate this day and this man.

Kathleen Ernst said...

What a wonderful experience! And a lovely post. I'm a big believer in "showing up." Everyone has a voice, and an obligation to speak up for what they believe in.

Deborah Sharp said...

Great post, Vicki. I love the way you pull in the reader with those very personal details (my dad wore Old Spice, and I had saddle shoes, too!) and then get to the important things about King's talent, legacy and doing good. Makes me think I have to try harder to make time to do good. (I was recently asked to come and read from my books at a fundraiser for a reading for the blind program ... had a prior engagement, but I'll remind them I'll be free next time)