The question certainly deserves to be asked: Fifty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., are we closer to are further away from realizing his dream of peace and harmony among the races?
While the question should be an easily answered “yes” — considering the price that has been paid by generations of those in the fight for Civil Rights — can we really say “yes” with a straight face?
How much of our daily lives are infected with some talk of racial disunity in America?
A woman came to our office recently. She is a frequent visitor and is an outspoken voice for the Black community in Laurel. See, if we have to refer to part of Laurel as the Black community … well, we might have just answered our own question.
She wanted to talk about the lack of coverage for a comment made at a Citizen’s Forum at City Hall about building a black history museum. Playing devil’s advocate, the person to whom she was speaking asked, “Is there a white history museum?”
The question shouldn’t come across as flippant. But, really, is there a white museum in Laurel?
“Lauren Rogers,” she snapped.
“They don’t allow blacks at Lauren Rogers Museum?” a reporter queried, wondering if he had fallen on a great scoop. Of course blacks are allowed there, but according to the visitor, “black people aren’t going to go to that one.”
Of course, LRMA is not a history museum at all, but one of the finest galleries of art that can be found in any size city. But using the justification that because black people won’t go to that museum, we need a blacks-only museum will not get us any closer to Dr. King’s dream of unity.
A Laurel History Museum likely would be a major draw to a city that is getting inundated with visitors. Notice we didn’t put a color on the museum but one that encompasses the entire fabric and landscape of this city’s history — without labels.
That is an idea we bet a whole bunch of people from all walks of life will get behind, and it will show that viewing the world through race-colored glasses will get us nowhere as a community.
We honor Dr. King’s impact on America and we mourn that day half-a-century ago when an assassin’s bullet tried to silence a march toward racial reconciliation, peace and love.
There are signs of his dream becoming reality, but those are fleeting, often drowned out by the loudest voices on both sides who want to keep those century-old wounds oozing.