Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day 2022, which is a federal holiday. Banks and the post office and government offices will be closed. Public schools are closed today too. Look or virtual events and celebrations because yes there is still a raging pandemic.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr 1963
Racism is a pernicious reality that causes death, hardship, pain and suffering. In the United States, we have come a long way since the days when our laws enshrined racist practices that allowed discrimination based on the color of one’s skin to rent out a Boston Condo for sale or rent. Sadly, however, we all know that stamping out racism from our nation is an unfinished agenda. Anyone who would deny this need only have an honest conversation with a person of color and will come away with a very different opinion. Yes, sadly as a Boston Beacon Hill condo broker for over 20 years I have witness housing discrimination. The good news, if you can call it that, I don’t see as a much now as I did 15-20 years ago.
Last Sunday a preacher told me; “When I was a small child, I heard the landlord of our home use the N word when he was yelling at older boys in the neighborhood who had been bothering him. He threatened “… to sell the house to
N’s”. I had no idea what he meant but I was sure that he was threatening to do something that was bad. This early memory from my childhood reminds me of two things. As children, we are all very impressionable and racism is not innate or natural. It is learned by children and adolescents and taught by adults.”
A must See movie
Recently i watched a biography movie about Donald Waldbridge Shirley, who is not a name that most of us would easily recognize. He was a classical concert pianist who died in 2013. He earned a living playing jazz and recording classical music, his first love, when the opportunity presented itself. He was also a black man and the principal character in the award winning movie the ‘Green Book.’ Seeing the ‘Green Book’ should be a priority for everyone on Martin Luther King weekend.
In a nutshell, the ‘Green Book’ is about a concert tour through the Deep South by Dr. Shirley at a time when segregation was thoroughly anchored in the laws and customs of that part of the country. In 1962, the civil rights movement of the 60s was struggling to get off the ground, and people of color like Dr. Shirley were treated shamelessly by white people as if AfricanAmericans were subhuman. The “matter of fact” reality of segregation in the movie is a vivid reminder of the injustices that black people have had to endure since before slavery began.
The movie takes its name from a real “Green Book” which listed all the motels where “colored” people were welcome. (Needless to say, all hotels and motels in the Deep South did not allow non whites to book a room.) Based on a true story, the movie recounts how Dr. Shirley hired an ItalianAmerican strong man, a night club bouncer, to be his chauffeur and his bodyguard. While the story that follows is entertaining and has a “feel good” ending, it is really a provocative, consciousnessraising drama that casts into bold relief the crime of white privilege at the expense of people of color.
As we honor the memory of Martin Luther King,Jr. this weekend, it behooves us all to be more aware of our personal responsibility to confront the evil of racism of our day, the ‘Green Book’ is a stark reminder of why we have a holiday in January named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.