‘I truly recognized my existence as an African-American’

Dr. Al Cade

The significance of this day to ‘Remember-Celebrate-Act’, and the lasting legacy of Dr. King in my personal development. 

I came to understand the significance of this holiday early in life, that day in April of 1968, when an assassin’s bullet took the life of Dr. King. 

In my house and community, that day was marked by extreme sadness, divisiveness, and darkness. In a sense . . . it was the day I lost my innocence and truly recognized my existence as an African-American. 

I came to question my existence in a country . . . sharply divided by race, religion, ideology, and economics.

For this reason, I today find myself exploring these four words and their influence in the arena of social justice. 

I recall after returning to school, following a period of civil unrest, my teacher removed some of the common bulletin board material in reference to our country.

This further caused me to question things, including schools and education.

 I recall my teacher looking at the class in a very deep and solemn fashion, and I wondered . . . What is it that she is seeing? 

Was my teacher fearful of the future we were destined to? 

Was my teacher questioning what type of world for which she was preparing us?

Was she too questioning our fate in a country marked by race, religion, ideology, and economic division?

Following years of personal reflection . . . I now know what was troubling my teacher that day. 

She was losing hope of a new tomorrow. A tomorrow in which all people can prosper as citizens in the largest, most powerful democratic country in the world.

Dr. King once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”

My favorite teacher was losing hope. The hope of a tomorrow, free of hatred, bigotry, and injustice. 

While progress has been made, we have faced, and will continue to encounter barriers along the path toward racial peace and unity.

We must never lose hope of the future that Dr. King envisioned for all Americans.

Dr. King was quoted as saying, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life.” 

The question for all of us . . . Where do we choose to stand?

On the side of justice or injustice, nonviolence or violence, tolerance or intolerance, and choose instead to speak truth to power.