Martin Luther King Day is for White People, Too

And this is why.

This is probably obvious to a lot of you. But not to everyone. The other day, I heard someone talking about , and this person asked why “they” thought "they" had the right to plug up traffic. (I didn’t actually hear it, I read it on Facebook. People are much more brazen there, like it doesn’t really count if you say it on Facebook.)

The Facebook poster suggested that “they” just go to the King Center in Atlanta and march there. 

So without talking about racial tension in Snellville, and without really getting into the "us" vs. "them" mentality, I would like to mention why, as white people, we should celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., day, and why we, as white people, should show up on Monday to the parade. 

  • Because Dr. King had a dream that "one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood."
  • Because he hoped that one day "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."
  • Because he hoped that "freedom [would] ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia."
  • Because racism still exists today. Yes, it does, in a big way, although it's quieter than it used to be (and it's not just among white people). Dr. King's dream is not here yet. 
  • Because the history of white Americans in this country is not the same as black Americans. So let's take a day to just listen and learn.
  • Because Martin Luther King Day is important. It is so, so important. It is the celebration of a man who devoted his life to changing an entire culture of divide in the United States. 
  • Because Dr. King felt that everyone should have equal rights. 
  • Because Dr. King is part of American history. All Americans. 
  • Because in Snellville, everybody is somebody. Because Snellville can be a universal example of brotherly love, of respect, of valuing everyone, even if our subcultures differ and we wear different shades of makeup. 
  • Because Snellville truly is a melting pot. Let's celebrate that. 
  • Because the civil rights movement was over half a century ago, and we should be colorblind by now. 
  • Because the civil rights movement was only half a century ago, and change is slow. It takes generations. It takes you, and me, and Jews, and Muslims, and Christians, and Latinos, Asians, Europeans, and women and men and children. 
  • Because there is a Walmart in Snellville where the customers are primarily black, and another where the customers are primarily white. It is what it is, for whatever reason, but it is. 
  • Because some Snellville residents avoid one Walmart and drive much further to go to the other. Sure, I'm sure that's not a majority of people. But some do. 
  • Because it's a day of remembrance and recognition of a man who taught pacifism and equality, and was murdered violently for it. 
  • Because your children need to see you celebrating it. Mine are almost grown, and I wish I had taught them more about it. 

I'm so sorry if this comes across as smug of me, as a white person telling other white people what to do. But I'm not sure how else to express my thoughts. Please, go to the parade on Monday. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tammy Osier January 18, 2013 at 03:36 AM
Amy, you and I live in different worlds. I live in a world where little white children love and adore the black teacher I work with. I live in a world where little black children give me a big hug and tell me how much they love me every day. Those kids don't notice our races. I live in a world where adult whites and black get along fine. I'm wondering if maybe you're looking for people to judge you differently because of yours or their race? Seriously, Not being disrespectful, I seriously want to know. I just get confused by hearing you say you can't imagine whites and black getting along because of the south. I treat people the way I want to be treated (even better actually) and in kind they treat me the same way. I think if we all took our blinders off and stopped being suspicious of motives of everyone we meet, we might find ourselves in a world where we would have to consiously say, "Oh yeah, I guess we are different on the outside". I am not rare. I am a representative of people frustrated with race being brought into everything and wanting people to walk together instead of always divided. That's almost everybody I know (and I know a LOt of people). I think Dr. King wanted it that way and am confused as to why we can't seem to get there. I don't think he expected the family to fragment the way it has. Listen to his niece. Here are some quotes which reveal her heart and that, I believe those of MLK: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/alveda_king.html
Dave Emanuel January 18, 2013 at 03:44 AM
At last year's Martin Luther King parade and celebration in Snellville we had a great turnout of people of all races-- all walking together. Although the title of your post is entirely accurate, it saddens me that you chose it-- it should go without saying. Over 40 years ago, Dr. King spoke about his dream of a country where people were judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Unfortunately, I don't believe we are any closer to Dr. King's dream coming true today than we were 40 years ago. Perhaps events like Snellville's celebration of Dr. King's birthday will help change that.
Amy January 18, 2013 at 04:04 AM
Ouch Tammy...Am I reading that wrong? Are you accusing me of being a racist? Or prejudiced of Southern Whites? I wish you wouldn't read too much into what I say as being negative. I'm not that person. Please get to know me better, other than this website, before you think so poorly of me.
Tammy Osier January 18, 2013 at 04:18 AM
No, No no! I'm just wondering about your experiences and how they seem to be different than mine. You always seem surprised that white people can speak highly of MLK, or when you were surprised at my writing on the Atlanta History center that a white person could have had compassion on persecuted people of that time. I'm just wondering what your experience is based on things you say. that's all. It's just that my experience is that of most people that I encounter just don't bring it up. I don't throw that word around lightly and would nver accuse anyone of racism. It's a really ugly word that gets used too lightly these days in my opinion. I actually want to have a friendly conversation to try to understand my Patch sister better :)
Tammy Osier January 18, 2013 at 04:22 AM
Amy - you said you were from the north, so I wondered what might be different. I've always lived here and watched the evolution of civil rights in the south. My conclusions have been pretty positive, especially when I compare to where we've been to where we are now. You said in another post that someone told you how awful we southerners were. I guess I just don't want you to judge us based on someone's opinion. What have your experiences been like since being here?
Tammy Osier January 18, 2013 at 11:31 AM
To answer the original question posed. Think about what Dr. King actually said. He was a christian. the book of acts took place with all nations together- God revealing what His will was for all his people. OUr Constitution says that all men are created equal, so obviously that was the original intent of America; we've had to grow into a vision that was bigger than our fallen nature. MLK's words signify that. He had a dream that black children, white children, etc... would work together and that americans would be judged by the inside, not the outside. I think some people make it about one race, and we need to go back to the foundational meaning that MLK intended so that his dream really can be realized. Until then, people need to run their agendas through the filter of those words.
Christine Croft January 18, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Thank you for not only believing but for sharing your truth!!!! :)
David Brown January 18, 2013 at 01:12 PM
Black Americans and white Americans do live in different worlds. I'm not sure that will change on this side of heaven. I share the perspective of Joy Woodson, former Snellville Patch editor. During the Trayvon Martin imbroglio, Joy listed the things she has accomplished in her life. She then lamented the fact that despite those accomplishments, she always felt like what she accomplished was never good enough. Personally, since I moved to Snellville, I have heard, seen and read some comments that made me wonder if I, as a Black American, was truly welcomed here. I could say MUCH more, but I will stop here. I've probably said too much already.:)
Bill Palmer January 18, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Just to put things in a slightly different perspective, my wife and I are bi-racial, we drive to the closest Wal-Mart (isn't the idea to save money), never noticed whether there are more Black or White or Yellow customers or personnel, and the people harmony I have witnessed since moving to Snellville from Pasadena, CA is astounding. By the way, when the Cherokee people were "emigrating" from the South to the "reserved Indian lands" in the West, many families had Black slaves who went with them. Some incredible history here in Georgia and Snellville. Sorry for the rambling, see you at the "event" on Monday.
Dave Emanuel January 18, 2013 at 04:50 PM
As you may recall, there was an ad campaign in New York City many years ago that included signs in subway cars that read, "Ecidujerp- Prejudice spelled backwards. Either way it doesn't make any sense." As you know, prejudice arises largely from ignorance and xenophobia, two aspects of the human condition that are universal. I've lived in the Northeast, in California, in the Midwest and in Georgia. Frankly, I haven't seen much difference in the incidence of prejudice. It's more disguised in some places than in others, but in my experience, the expression of thoughts that make a person of any race feel unwelcome are a function of individuals, not region. Being white, I'm sure my experiences and resulting perspective is considerably different than yours-- just thought you might find that perspective of interest.
Tammy Osier January 19, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Agreed Bill. It disheartens me that there are people who walk around with "race" always at the forefront of their minds. Seems like a bondage in itself and keeps people angry and offended all the time. I like the world where we just don't think about it. Isn't that where we should be, where we judge people by their insides not their outsides? I am the lone white in the prison ministry that I am a part of, and didn't even notice it until one day, jokingly, one of the folks in the room called me their "token white". I laughed. Then, I looked around, and sure enough, that was the case. America is a melting pot, a rare place indeed, where people come together based on their ideals rather than separating into groups as the rest of the world does. I see the harmony that you do as well, but am saddened that there are people who can't. I feel so bad for them.
JH Wilson January 20, 2013 at 01:10 PM
I think MLK would be saddened by the developments over the past few decades. No, not on the white black issue, but where we blacks have fell to develop into leaders and bring our children forward. By accepting the current Rap music and what it is doing to our youth is repulsive. I had my 12 year old daughter in the car on scenic Hwy and the car next to me was blarring rap music with the F word every other word. I was so embarrased for my daughter and myself. Then we wonder what is happening to our youth. We need to stand up for principals to gain respect in this American society. Just look at the Casey Anthony case, when she got off, the Whites were outraged and even waited outside of the jail to rant this obvious miscarriage of justice, but when O.J. got off, we were outside celebrating, even though everyone knew he was guilty as sin. We have to stand up and take accountability for our own actions first , we are just letting too many things destroy our race from within. Yes there is racism in the south, but that is not hurting our race as much as letting our own principals escape scruity. Start standing up for family principals and American principals, otherwise we will always be in the shadows as the ones that play the race card on every situation, let's progress not regress.
Tammy Osier January 20, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Jh wilson you are a breath of fresh air. What you said is what we all have in common. We want to raise our children yo do right and live as decent people. As MLK said, side by side in love and respect as we are all Gods children. Keep fighting that good fight. Whites have had to admonish their own to grow into this dream and everyone who calls themselves Americans need to do the same.
Amy January 20, 2013 at 03:52 PM
I don't even believe you're Black. I guess Trayvon Martin deserved to be slaughtered because he listened to Rap music and probably had a smart mouth. For the record, the word is PRINCIPLE, not principal. That threw me off because I was wondering what school principals had to do with this.
Tammy Osier January 20, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Well Amy, you sound very angry and bitter when you speak. Do you hear yourself? Always an accusation and putting words in people's mouth's. Trayvon Martin was not brought up, but yet you can speak for JH. Always an excuse, that way, you don't have to get out of your comfort zone. Stick to the questions posed and see if you can answer them. JH sounds like my black friends, so I had no problem believing that JH was black. JH brings many good points. My friends want the same things for their children. MLK did too. There's nothing wrong with wanting your children to listen to decent music that doesn't have f words and sing of killing cops and slapping women. So, are you saying that you approve of that? Most kids that end up in the judicial system (black and white) have that music in common. Something wrong with that. I work with those juveniles, remember? The white kids that lived in the projects never thought they could do any better because that's what they were told. It always disturbed me when my black kids would tell me that being successful and smart in school was a white thing. Really? Where'd that come from? Their parents. That's the regression that JH talked about. Break that curse, turn it into a blessing and get to the promised land of MLK. That's what this day is about. Don't stay in Egypt where the idols are. The message of yesterday will actually preach today. You just have to claim it and put some faith to your walk (where you begin teaching others).
Amy January 20, 2013 at 06:50 PM
You know Tammy, me and you have a lot in common. Even though I chose not to broadcast this every opportunity I get, I am a volunteer in an adult literacy program. Only 2 hours a week, and I give an adult the gift of learning how to read. By choice, I only want to teach English-speaking Americans how to read. By chance, most of these people White. I know illiteracy doesn't discriminate, because there are Blacks and Whites who don't know how to read, but I've only encountered Whites. So just like you, I get the ignorant ideals. One of my students really likes me, and she wants to me come to her trailer park. I would never step foot near any of those places. I don't want to be shot and I can't stand smokers. They find it astounding that I have immigrant parents, am Black, and I've successfully finished high school and college, and I own two homes. I'm equally shocked that her family has been in the USA for a centuries and home ownership has eluded her. At times when we're in restaurants (that's where we meet for the lessons), the N-word may slip out sometimes. I ignore it because she doesn't know any better, and perhaps I can make a difference in her life and show her that all people of one race aren't the same because I certainly don't think she represents the White race. I had more to say to JH, but I didn't want to veer too far off the topic, which is, about MLK day. To answer your dumb question, no. My kids are not allowed to listen to Rap music.
Tammy Osier January 20, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Amy, you and I do have a lot in common. We both seethe worst each's race's have to offer. The question is, do we judge the whole by the part? I don't but I do get frustrated whe n I hear certain things come out their mouths that come from a prior generation. Probably most of the people who deal with come from that generation. If not, they got their attitudes from the previous generation which proves my point that it's got to stop somewhere. I choose to teach the younger generation, since the older generation is set in their ways (my hat's off to you!!!). The younger kids are open to what I have to say if I love them and respect them. I've had kids that were constantly in trouble, I did my job and finally had to write them up. As mom came to pick them up, she asked her son what color the lady was that wrote him up. He said, "white". She sneered and told him that I was just out to get him and he didn't have to mind me. The KID, defended me and said, "No, mama, I did ehat she said and she gave me plenty of time to turn it around". That is so wonderful to me. So, yeah, we have a lot in common. The question is, then, why the persecution of JH? I think JH made a lot of sense. Both sides tend to cover for their own, and it's time we stopped that. It kills me that many will go to MLK parades etc... and still come away with an attitude that is 180 degrees opposite of what he stood for. That's what amazes me.
Tammy Osier January 20, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Amy- On another note...you're comment about the lady inviting you to her trailer park and you saying you didn't want to get shot reminded me of a story from my experience. I've worked with gang members (some, the real thing, the rest, wannabes), and I had a student that was sure enough, the real thing. He lived in a rough neighborhood, and I had an old friend in that neighborhood that I had mentioned I'd like to go visit sometime. I figured that I had finally built a good rapport with him when he said to me, "Hey, you just let me know when you're coming, and I'll make sure you get through the neighborhood safe". LOLOL
Amy January 20, 2013 at 09:40 PM
Your story about that mother reminded me of my son's friend. He's White and was really good friends with my son. Very nice kid who liked to taste food from different cultures. My son introduced him to his other friend who was Black. The two didn't hit it off, all they had in common was my son. The White friend called the Black friend the N-word during an argument. It was a massive big deal and parents got involved and my son had to choose who he wanted to be friends with. I spoke to the White kid and asked him why he said that word. He says the other kid was calling him racist names. I was friggin over it. I told my son to be friends with whomever he chooses, and not to be pressured by guilt. In the end, the boys became teenagers, and went 3 separate directions. The moral of the story is that racism is debilitating. If you say racist words around your children, they will say it to other people. If you plan on being successful, you will have to learn how to deal with different types of people.
Tammy Osier January 20, 2013 at 09:47 PM
But the point of the whole thing is Amy, I teach my kids right, and you do too. But on both sides (note, I said both sides), we need more mama's like us. That's where it starts. It's when we refuse to see our own faults where we err.
JH Wilson January 20, 2013 at 11:55 PM
I have no ideal what Tryavon has to do with what I said, but if you think it is ok to ride down the highway with your children on the way to school and here F that every other word from a rap song, then that is your right. You and your kids enjoy it, I find it disgusting. As far as my spelling, you have bigger problems to worry about than my misspelling. Funny you mention Trayvon, one incident involving a white on black tragic crime, but everyday in Chicago there are 3-10 kids murdered. There are no protest, no TV coverage. But it is obvious where your thoughts are. Have a nice day !
Amy January 21, 2013 at 12:17 AM
So what does the MLK march have to do with OJ Simpson, rap music, or Casey Anthony? Let's get this right, your illiteracy is definitely NOT my problem. It's yours. Go back to school. I was taking you seriously, but after reading a few more lines, it became apparent that I'm reading the writings of a buffoon. Another thing, I don't have an issue with the F-word in rap music. My issue with that type of music is how it promotes the use of illegal drugs, abuse and disrespect of women, and excessive use of the N-word. So we're different and have different issues. And we're not going to close this conversation by inserting "Have a nice day!". Not answering would have been a proper closure.
Tammy Osier January 21, 2013 at 02:17 AM
if you go back and read the original post, youll see yhat jh was saying that instead of complaining and blamimg, there needs to be accountability. Jh was saying that in the anthony case, people railed against imjustice but in the oj case, people dismissed him because of his race even when they knew he was guilty. I think thats what jh was saying and I agree.
Tammy Osier January 21, 2013 at 02:20 AM
What it has to do with mlk is that if people had truly embraced the dream you wouldnt see the disconnect in the family and crime rates that we see now. Jh is asking how mlk would feel about that today.
JH Wilson January 21, 2013 at 05:01 AM
Amy if you can not see the relationship in what I was saying, maybe you should not be teaching illiteracy and enrolling. If you don't have an issue with the F word being blasted around young children, then that is enough said. You are very angry person and I honestly do not believe anything you are saying
Charis Roth January 21, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Tammy, you may not think there is still an issue to be discussed, and you may teach your kids right, but there are many who don't. There are whites who lived during the time when racism was the law of the land (can't eat together, drink after each, definitely not marry each other) and who still think that was OK. Or, whites who think that black people should be "over it" by now. And there are black people who lived through that, and whose children are hurt by how their grandparents were treated. It just wasn't long ago, and it seems crazy to brush it off and say that we see white kids and black kids holding hands now so everything should be OK. It's better, yeah, but the struggles faced by a large chunk of the American population are something white people can't understand. But, it's so much better in Snellvilel than further south where I have extended family.
Amy January 21, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Actually JH, I do not teach ILLITERACY. I teach basic adult literacy. I do it out of the goodness of my heart, and I do it on my own time. Do you do anything for anybody else? Other than pointing out all the foibles of your own race on a thread dedicated to celebrating a life?
Amy January 21, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Tammy, There's a time and a place for everything. It's inappropriate for this person to discuss the horrors of rap music on this thread. Since we have the power to start our own thread, why doesn't he/she start a blog and voice away.
Amy January 21, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Careful Charis, you're starting to sound like an angry, bitter White woman. Take it from the angry, bitter Black woman - you can glorify the use of murderous weapons, and rejoice when someone dies, but you can't point out your reality because you're ANGRY.
Greg Alexander May 01, 2013 at 05:01 AM
Sorry to post on a stale thread, but I happened to run across your post, Charis. Since I learned anything about the principles of non-violence that King believed in, I have absolutely believed that he holds as much value and hope for whites as for blacks. However, I also ran across this other post, which I found very powerful: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/29/1011562/-Most-of-you-have-no-idea-what-Martin-Luther-King-actually-did Cliff notes version: King's universal message of love may have often landed on deaf ears, but he made a real revolution among black people by *successfully* teaching something like, "if you want to be free, and freedom means being whipped, then you will have to overcome your fear of the whip." Which is also universally applicable, but meant something special to a people living under the entirety of Jim Crow. In some sense, rap music is a potent affirmation of this -- no one who is living in absolute terror of judgment by white people could possibly behave like a rap star.


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