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I spent the greater part of January 19th wishing folks a “Happy Martin Luther King Day!” More of them than not ignored me or shot me an empty look saying, “I have no clue what you are talking about.”

One guy actually asked me, “What’s that?”

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted inclusion for all. I know he wanted an end to ignorance and self actualization for everyone! So on the day he was to be remembered (not his actual birthday, which is another story), it would be nice if all Americans, including those who want to become Americans, know who the blazes he was and why the devil they are out of school and off from work!

As a child I was at the March on Washington, I visited Resurrection City, and regretfully I was a brief participant in the 1968 riots. I also marched several times with Reverends Ralph Abernathy and Joe Lowery. I once sat at a table with Lowery and Reverends Jesse Jackson and Ben Chavis while they planned for the March. I was not a planner, just fortunate to be there as a Volunteer in Service to America – or VISTA.

I lived the before and the after of the Civil Rights movement. How dare anyone, especially any minority individual, not know this part of our heritage!

I was a little upset about this National Day of Service business too, created in 1994 to appease guilty consciences. Most organizations encourage Day of Service volunteers to continue throughout the year, but few do. Much like Thanksgiving and Christmas, this well-intentioned holiday has become a token chance for the otherwise self-absorbed to say, “I gave.”

King didn’t die so we could be community heroes three days a year! The idea was for all people to commit themselves to being active participants in the universal village (Earth) in which we live.

Charity begins within the home and is built through community. We need dignity for our neighborhoods. Respect and edification for every citizen can only be achieved through equality regardless of race, color or creed. King wanted an end to poverty for anyone and justice for everyone. On Facebook, a picture of him circulates asking “Is this what I died for?”
Never mind the disservice we commit against ourselves – we are shortchanging our children. The ignorance I observed that Monday certainly did not see race, color or creed. College students ought to know better. American blacks ought to know better. Anyone armed and in uniform ought to know better. It’s a national day of remembrance for those who struggled and suffered so we could all live a better life.

My point is, we need to remember the man and “remember the dream.” We need to involve ourselves in strengthening our community, society, nation and world. We need to reopen the lines of discussion across ALL barriers. There is no hope for community if there is no communication. We need our churches and recreation centers to open daily, not just to facilitate services and special events. We need our police to be our allies, not enemies. We need to yank the crooks out of public office and put people in apartments and houses, not parks and shelters. We need to engage our children in libraries and schools. This, all of this, will end the moral decay in our “civilization.”

That can’t be done with “a day of service.”