One of my favorite national holidays is Martin Luther King’s Day.
As I have become older, the importance of the holiday has increased. In my younger years it was just a holiday we got off of school. My teachers would teach us some brief history about Martin Luther King, Jr but it only lasted for a day or two.
You see I grew up in northern Virginia, just south of Washington DC. When you live in a historically rich area such as that, you have a lot of history thrown your way. MLK was only a brief history lesson in my textbooks.
As I got into my early teenage years, I started to realize that there was an entire month dedicated towards Black History.
“Why did we need Black History Month?”
Martin Luther King was everyone’s go to source for black history information so why did their have to be a whole month of it? My teachers mentioned George Washington Carver and Harriet Tubman but we all knew who everyone seemed to talk about!
I remember whenever there was talk of black history, the face I would always see on posters in classrooms or commercials was Martin Luther King’s. I blindly accepted that Martin Luther King was the only significant major black contributor to black history for many years.
In my middle school years, my county started a “I have a dream” speech contest. The contestants would echo parts of that speech into their own dreams. I heard that speech several times over the years. Never the full version, but just enough to get the jest of the message.
I Knew The World’s History…
As I advanced in my school years, I learned about Greek history, the Roman empire, Alexander the Great, The Renaissance and various other European centric topics in my history class.
You see I was a history fanatic. I loved to learn about the past. It is only through the past that we can learn what we should not do. In order to know what those mistakes were, we first must know how it came to be.
Understanding how the world got to where it currently is, fascinated me. In my college years, I decided to take a western European history class for my core history credit. Not only did I take one class, I took two western European courses (Pre and Post World War One).
I remember as the second semester of my college years started, a friend of mine told me she was taking an African American history course. She told me that I should think about taking it as well. I brushed it off because I knew that there was nothing in that class for me. I was always in advanced classes and knew all there was about the history of the world.
I didn’t need to know about being a black in America because I was already living the life!
Boy was I in for a rude awakening four years later when I FINALLY took the African American class!
…What About My History?
In today’s day and age, we use the term “woke”. That basically means that you are no longer ignorant to racial and social injustices in the world because you are aware of the truth, and the truth is very powerful!
Hands down, the best class I took in my college career was African American history! In less than one chapter form the required reading, I learned more about the historical achievements of black men and women than my previous 15 years of education.
All those years of me being on this planet thinking I knew my identity was shattered. I realized that my school system had failed me. I had failed me! As advanced as my classes were, they did not teach me a thing about my own history! The only thing they thought me was that Martin Luther King was a squeaky clean guy.
As the class continued, we started reading about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. When I saw the name Martin Luther King, my eyes rolled because I thought “hear we go again, the same old I have a dream speech”. Was I in for another rude awakening when I saw how similar Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were!
There was more to Martin Luther King than what most history books seem to paint. He was a complicated man stuck in a movement. He was by no means a perfect man! He was know to cheat on his wife with other woman!
Additionally, the sit-ins, and boycotts were by no means cake walks. Despite the non-violent approaches, the protesters were constantly met with violence and vulgar words. He was arrested over 30 times in a ten year period!
He and his organizations knew what they were up against and kept fighting anyway. In today’s day and age that’s really saying something. It’s hard to image too many people being able to take such a major stand with so much being done to oppress them.
It takes you becoming a better person to get towards that level of self-control.
What Are You Complaining About?
I’m a guy that’s trying to get people to just eat healthy and exercise on a daily basis. When people try to give me their reasons why they can’t do something, all I have to do is remind them about the Civil Rights Movement. If you want to talk sacrifice, those brave men and women put their lives on the line to make changes!
Your co-workers ordered pizza for lunch?
So what! You’re going to be working in an office that smells of pepperoni while your co-workers are laughing?
That’s nothing compared to being stuck in an alley with the smell of pepper spray in your nostrils while rabid dogs are biting you!
Is your family’s life constantly being harassed by the FBI?
Yes, the same organization that is supposed to protect you has made it their #1 goal to cause you and your family to be torn apart. MLK faced threats from them as well as thousands of others on a daily basis just for wanting to be treated like a human being!
That’s a real sacrifice.
We live in an age of entitlement. It’s rare for folks to really show gratitude or appreciation for how things got to where they are. The fact that I can be a black fitness coach training individuals from all over the globe is remarkable!
I have Martin Luther King and the countless others that paved the way for me to thank.
Trust me, I know there are other African Americans who’s stories need to be told (ummm what about the real women behind Hidden Figures?). I know that their tales need to be added (not subtracted) from our school’s history books. For that to happen it all has to start somewhere.
For me, it was the simple acknowledgement of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr!
Next time you complain about your diet or exercise, just remember what true sacrifice looked like……….Stay humble and aware my friends!