Monday, January 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Dear Martin

Sorry to be away so long. It’s been one of those strange and delightful weeks…I’ll explain sometime.
Today we celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King.
I grew up in Salt Lake City, not a hotbed of civil rights! All my life I knew Hispanics and Native Americans ( I won’t repeat what most people called these folks) but I didn’t meet an African American until I was 18. I grew up in a church that at that time taught that blacks carried the "mark of Cain." Cursed they couldn’t hold the "Priesthood" (something that every other boy in the church received at age 12.
In 1968 I was a senior at Highland High School and also a student at the Highland LDS Seminary, a released time non-credit program for Mormon high school students. I sang with the Seminary Choir. One night at our weekly rehearsal someone interrupted to announce that Dr. King had been slain…the room erupted in cheers. (Everybody "knew" he was a communist, right?) I slipped out the back door went out to my dad’s car and broke down in tears. It wasn’t because I was particularly sensitive to the plight of blacks or the struggles for freedom. Somehow I knew this man was changing the world. I was overwhelmed with sadness and I didn’t know why! As I look back I am so glad I cried instead of cheered. At least I don’t have that on my conscience!

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