Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King Day

“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

I took that quote from my Franklin Covey planner today, I can’t claim to have known these words by heart….of course I know some and many of his words, as do most Americans, or as should most Americans, but these words seemed fitting as any, so I stuck with them…..if you haven’t found something worth dying for yet, I hope you soon do, otherwise life is hardly worth living.

Martin Luther King day is a special day….I’m sure people would argue with me for ranking the importance of national holidays, but for me, I certainly put this towards the top. It represents what I feel America should stand for—equality in the pursuit of the American Dream.

I grew up on the south side of Chicago, and attended an arts magnet school on south State Street. I was one of only 2 white kids in my entire kindergarten class; the rest being made of Hispanic and black kids—and I loved it……….every waking moment of it…I loved double dutch in the playground, I loved my little crush on Jermaine, but most I loved my friends and that we all belonged together and shared the talent and intelligence to be at such a school, and it had nothing to do with the color of our skin, how much our parents made, or which side of town we came from.

When the teachers were on strike for 3 weeks I attended class at the catholic school my mother taught at, St. Solomea. The children in her class held a beautiful tan in mid winter and loved that I could roll my r’s as well as them and swear at the nuns under my breath in Spanish.

I found myself at St. Thomas the Apostle in Hyde Park in first grade, and my best friend was the most beautiful girl I’d ever met. Rebecca was a third grader with coffee black, satiny smooth skin. She towered over me, and I thought she was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. Her voice was rich and I hung on her every word. I remember our school held our very own presidential election. Rebecca and I both voted for Mondale, and wrote in Michael Jackson for Vice President. (yes, I second guess my write in now)

By forth grade (and a whole-nother blog topic) I had gone to live with my father in the suburbs…………… case you weren’t aware, white people live in the suburbs, lots of them. I’d never seen so many white people….and seen so much bad dancing, (but I digress). I was given a “cultural badge” in girl scouts by teaching the troop to double dutch. No, I’m not kidding.

I love looking back on my early school years, when I’d beg my mother to braid my hair like Mercede’s, in perfect sections, when I’d play hooky from brownies to accompany her to night school and stop at brown’s chicken on the way for a piece of fried chicken and a biscuit. I did in so many ways have a horrible and troubled childhood, but to her credit, I was amerced in so many cultures and community activities that created treasured memories and valuable lessons. I love the sounds of culture and urban beats, the smells of family style dinners in ethnic neighborhoods. I love to dance, to sing, to embrace every ounce of life.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Day, Celebrate what he was willing to die for………celebrate that although we have progress still to make, we have come a long way and live in a nation of many cultures and a thriving spirit of success and love. Celebrate Diversity.


Blogger La Tonya said...

Hey Chelsea! I alwasy love reading your blog:) Such a diverse person you are! Can't wait to meet you in person at CHA!!

January 16, 2007  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

Very well written Chels! I was reliving that moment with you! I've missed yah!


January 18, 2007  

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