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By Terri Hemmert

I was a student at Elmhurst College in 1968. April 4th was the day Dr. Martin Luther King Junior was murdered. I tell my current students that it was the first night I went to school. I listened to my African-American brothers and sisters that night. The veil dropped. The veil of smiles and getting along. I saw up close and personal their anger, grief, despair, fear, frustration, heart break and more anger. It wasn’t pretty, but I knew I needed to stay and witness what was going on. I learned more that night than any night before. I learned that being well intentioned was not enough. That being patient and thinking things will change for the better someday is not good enough. That people who live in this country, that work, study, vote, buy stuff, raise families, fall in love, dance and sing, mourn…that it’s just not right if they don’t have the same rights as the person sitting at the front of the bus. That if we’re not part of the solution we’re part of the problem. The world is a much different place than it was in the early 1960’s when Dr. King began his ministry for equal rights. Still have a long way to go. But Dr. King left us with wisdom and love that will keep us movin.’ Can’t stop now.

Do something in his memory. His dream is in our hands. It’s up to us.

I asked Mavis Staples once what she most missed about Dr. King. She said his laugh. I though, I never heard him laugh. In public it was all serious business. She said he had a marvelous sense of humor. At home, with friends, he was a real joker. He loved to laugh. Found this glimpse of what Mavis was talking about.


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