Every year around this time I say something about my personal hero, Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. This year is no exception. Of all the people I admire and respect in this world he is the one who has stayed consistent. Of course part of the reason for this is that his greatness has remained frozen in time long after his death. Even the “discovery” of his human weaknesses only made me admire him more. His words never let me down whenever I need a kick in the butt. When I am feeling down and out I remind myself that the weight he carried was greater than anything I have ever endured. And that I should be humbled that I can live the life I live because of the sacrifices he and his fellow activists made.
My life could be much worse if not for him. Looking at the news these days and listening to some of these radical conservatives on the radio and TV (you know who they are so I will not honor them by naming them) I strongly believe that there is a chance that segregation and Jim Crow would still be policy if not for his leadership. Last year one of the Nameless tried to usurp the anniversary of his assassination but to no avail. Dr. King’s Legacy lives on untarnished by those who would water-down his message.
Throughout our lives people disappoint us. I think this is the nature of living but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Most people don’t plan to let their friends or family down, it just happens given that we are imperfect creatures. I am sure there are many people who feel the same about me. Probably more than I’d care to admit. It is simply is a part of life. But for me, King is one of the few people whose words never fail me. I am constantly inspired by him and I am grateful for what he has done. I feel a similar kind of gratitude toward the family and friends who stepped up to help raise me when I moved to New York. The uncles and aunts who offered their advice, wisdom and protection. Without them, even in their imperfections, and for better or worse, I would not be the man I am today.
As we go into the highly publicized Hollywood award season, the time where the rich and beautiful give each other praise for acting and singing and dancing and such (basically for being rich and beautiful really well), I choose to tell them all to kiss me where the sun don’t shine. Instead I will honor the people who work for a living and struggle to get by, but want nothing more than to take care of their families and live life the best way they can. I choose to thank the social workers, teachers, medical assistants and case managers and all the others who grind year round to make sure that people get a chance to live well. Dr. King believed in the power of the working people of this great country and I carry those sentiments with me in the coming months and beyond as celebrities hand each other trophies and bags of door gifts worth more than most folk’s annual salaries.
I’m not a hater. I just think that regular people deserve a little reverence sometimes too. Remind your kids of this every chance you get. Celebrities entertain us (many of them do great humanitarian work too, yes it’s true) but there are heros and role models among us who are not up for awards, though they deserve nothing less.
Cheers to Dr. King, my hero, and to all the regular people who try their best to live well even without an annual shot at a gold statue for doing so!