January’s PromisesPosted: January 21, 2008
It looks like a picture out of Turbulent Years: The 60s, one of my Time-Life Our American Century series books. It has a snapshot of striking Memphis sanitation workers lined up for their protest in March, 1968, carrying placards that said I AM A MAN. Martin Luther King, Jr. went to lead the march. But it turned violent, and King championed nonviolence. He returned to Memphis to plan a second — peaceful — march in April, and told a crowd that God “has allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. And I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.”
The next day he was shot dead on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel. The bullet tore off part of his jaw, fractured his spine, and severed vital arteries.
That was 40 years ago.
Today, I went downtown to Landmark Booksellers and got right in the middle of the 2008 Franklin march in honor of MLK. People walked from The Factory down Franklin Road, across the Harpeth River, past the bookstore, to the square. They carried placards and sang. After four decades and a lot of water under the bridge, hundreds of people walked that mile or more to honor a man that didn’t make it to the Promised Land, but made it possible for others to go and live there.
It was cold outside, but it didn’t seem to turn anyone away.
It was nine degrees Saturday morning, with a chill factor of zero. I thought about my daffodils that usually start their venture upwards in January and ran outside to the spot behind the low stone wall I built. There they were! Daffodils, two inches out of the ground.
Those early rising flowers give me such hope. Hope that the world will be warm again. And colorful. And happy. Hope that we’ll all be outside again under the sun, together, laughing, living. They let me know that change is coming.