Monday, January 21, 2008

Picture That

Randall Washington has only two pictures in his apartment near Yankee Stadium. One is of his mother, who raised him in a tiny place on East 167th Street, and the other is of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who he never knew.

“I didn’t really understand what Dr. King meant when I was a kid,” Washington admits. “I remember my mother crying when he was killed and all the trouble in the streets, but I was too young to know what was lost.”

His mother never forgot.

“She always had a picture of him,” Washington says. “I took it when we cleaned out the place after she died.

“It used to hang over a table that had a little statue of Jesus on it,” he continues. “I thought he was some sort saint, but Momma told me he was just a man.”

A man who achieved great things.

“Absolutely,” Washington says. “But his greatness came from convincing others that they had worth and that regular people could find justice if they worked together.

“Too many people seem to have forgotten that,” he continues. “Now, regular people are fighting over silly things like immigration. I even hear words like ‘illegal’ attached to human beings.

“I think Dr. King would be very disappointed in what we’ve become,” Washington goes on. “He wanted everyone to understand that all people are equally important.”

Can a day honoring a man who stood for peace and justice begin to change things?

“I believe it can,” Washington says. “But the best way to honor Dr. King is to remember his lesson: That together we can achieve things that no single person ever could.”

Maybe that picture becomes a bit clearer today.


JoeyBoy said...

Martin Luther King can rest easy knowing that his struggle will not be forgotten and that someday we will win.

Doreen said...

Todd -

I'm glad there's this day every year. Because sometimes it seems like far too long ago that Dr. King's graced this earth with his dignity and purpose, and people have short memories.

I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your post at Lohud. I was out all day and just finished reading it a few minutes ago. I know once a new post gets written, the crowd moves on, and I wanted to make sure I told you how much your writing affects me.

I grew up in the suburbs and your writing welcomes me into your neighborhood, and helps me to know the people I've never met, and appreciate their lives. Keep writing. It's poetry.

Todd Drew said...

Thanks so much for the kind words, Doreen. That really means a lot to me.