Dr. Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated April 4th, 1968. That was 51 years ago today. In order to commemorate his passing, I penned the following and shared it with my coworkers at Microsoft.
On this very important day in history, I am contemplative. As we consider the importance of naming our ERG, I am reflective upon how we got here.
I was only 4 years old on that fateful day when “they killed Martin!”, so I don’t remember much, other than adults crying, smoking, drinking, talking adult talk, nervous wringing of hands, and us kids playing outside.
In my tech career of roughly 35 years, I’ve often been “the only…”. It’s been an interesting walk. In most recent years, as I become more Yoda and less Samuel Jackson, I have contemplated these things:
Would I have died fighting rather than be put on the ship
Would I have jumped into the ocean rather than be taken
Would I have fought back upon first being whipped, choosing pride and honor over subjugation
Would I have had the bravery to run away
Would I have had the bravery to help those who ran away
Would I have had the courage to learn to read
Would I have had the strength to send my children to school
Would I have had the strength to drink from the water fountain not meant for me
Would I have had the courage to simply sit
Would I have had the tenacity to face the smoke bombs, water cannons and dogs
Would I have had the conviction to carry on a struggle, long after my inspirational leader was lost…
And here I sit today, and I contemplate. Will I recognize my calling? Will I recognize my civil rights moment? Will I be able to throw off my golden handcuffs and do what’s right?
If we collectively think “Black” means anything, we collectively can’t ignore the passing of this particular day. I encourage us all to reflect on who we are, where we come from, and where we intend to go in the future.