copyright Bettina Network, inc. 2015
It has been amazing and humbling to watch the progress of the Martin Luther King holiday over the years. We watched from the beginning, when there was much conflict, confrontation, opposition, loud voices of angry protest at the very idea that such a man, with his history and achievements should be honored. We watched until today when the determination and love of those who were going to make sure Martin and the work of the Black Civil Rights movement was recognized. This 2015 year we celebrated and recognized a man and a movement with time out of school for our children, to the closing of banks, the post office and some of our corporations. To get even this far, has been a long, hard, painful, but very rewarding journey for many.
We attended and participated in events which recognized Martin Luther King and the movement of which he was one of the leaders. The events, their venues, the people participating were a cross section – not only of America – but across parts of the world where the work of the Civil Rights Movement was remembered.
There was much “breakfast table talk” about the history which brought us to this day. We hope it continues throughout the year. I thought we would share some of that conversation with you:
“We had a fantastic breakfast – I would have to call it a ‘breakfast seminar.’ Only one person at the table had been through the Civil Rights Movement which created this holiday. The rest of us were either not yet born or were on the other side. I was one of those on the other side at the time because, to me, what was happening with the protests, the disruptions, the dogs, the hoses aimed at the hurting of even young children was something I couldn’t abide. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with life the way we were living it. My point of view was not that of those who were willing to die for their freedom and were looking to the future at their children’s future, but of someone whose life was being disrupted. Not seriously disrupted, but enough to be inconvenienced and I just wanted it to stop and things to go back to the way they were. I don’t know when God took hold of me to shake me up and to shake those attitudes out of my life, but somehow it happened and I am now a part of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. My grey hair can be seen among all of those young people and I hope somehow, even though it is a very little and very late, my efforts will matter to those who come behind me.”
“What a history lesson! I remember studying the Civil Rights Movement in school. We learned about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and what that time was all about, but I had never talked to someone who was a part of that history before. This was a very different perspective. I think of history as being about the study of dead people and past times. Here I was in the middle of a conversation with someone who lived that history and those past times are still with us today. I have never been a part of a demonstration of any kind. Never talked to anyone who had. Didn’t intend to talk to anyone who was a part of something like that and here I was in the middle of breakfast deep into a conversation that changed my life. Thank you to my breakfast companions for putting up with me. My responses must have been horrible to you, yet you were so kind – well almost kind, after you got over the shock of my being at the breakfast table. I don’t know what I expected, but certainly not what happened. I have never even thought twice about the Martin Luther King holiday. No different from all those other holidays I don’t celebrate. Maybe it is the newness of this one – with the pain still being felt by those who experienced the events which led up to this being important enough to remember once a year. This is, however, a holiday I am bringing back to my family to celebrate every year by learning something new about that time in history and by trying to be a little better about dealing with my prejudices which have caused so many people pain. But – is ‘celebrate’ really what I want to say. I almost feel as though we should all be in sack cloth and ashes for what we’ve done, but ‘celebrate’ is what I feel.”
“A small group of us (women all) get together every year on Martin Luther King day to try to continue to work through our conflicting thoughts about the Black Civil Rights Movement. It was a difficult time for us. Women – who were discriminated against, not only by the wider society, but also by the Black Civil Rights Movement. It was very male oriented and some, in the movement, felt embarrassed if women were perceived as being in any leadership position. We withdrew, but still supported what was happening with our money, by marching and by being a part of. At the same time, we gathered together to fight for the equality of women and here was an example where those discriminated against were discriminating against us. That is so the human condition! Flawed, full of sin, dragging our own history and almost blind to that of others. Our time together, each year, is to try to reconcile and acknowledge our being human and to root out our separateness to be able to embrace everyone and not feel victimized as we work with those also fighting for their freedom in a society which seems to need to have a group on top and a group less than and which needs to manage and continue their being on top by playing one ‘less than’ group against another.”
“I love Bettina’s. It is a safe place to be able to express whatever and you never know who is going to be at breakfast. May you all live long and prosper.”
Ed Note: We had a lot more expressions of breakfast at Bettina’s on Martin Luther King Day. We shared just a few. The places where people came from, knowing the history of King and the Movement amazed even us. We could put this all together in a book, but we will stop here. Hope this gives more meaning to your day and information to your life.
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