Snail's Postcard Post

MLK Day

Here in the United States, it’s a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. He was born on January 15, but his birth is always celebrated the third Monday of January. (Today is David Lynch’s birthday however. The filmmaker and all-around idiosyncratic artist is 68 today.) So I thought I’d share a few postcards of King’s hometown.

img_5555img_5557img_5559img_5560img_5561img_5563As I’ve shared before, when I was a teen, I participated in a program called Sojourn to the Past, (the name of course is a nod to Sojourner Truth). This powerful educational trip is devoted to fostering social equality through nonviolent action. (In 2011, in a ceremony at the White House, Michelle Obama presented Sojourn to the Past with the nation’s highest honor for extracurricular youth programs.) Sojourn focuses on the Civil Rights Movement as U.S. history’s strongest example of how peaceful protest, largely by young people, can force sweeping change. High school student participants go on something of a pilgrimage through the South, learning about the Movement from its surviving leaders, in the places where they made their stands. 

On my Sojourn trip, Atlanta was our first stop. After a full day of air travel, it was evening by the time we checked into our hotel. Nevertheless, we then loaded back onto what would become the two familiar charter buses. When the buses stopped, we found ourselves in the dark in a park. Ahead was the exposed face of a modest mountain, with Civil War guys on horses carved from it. img_5579

The bas-relief was conceived by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the 1910s. In 1915, the Ku Klux Klan re-formed at Stone Mountain with a cross-burning ceremony. The Klan continued to meet here until the state purchased the mountain in 1958.

I now understood why Martin Luther King Jr. mentioned Stone Mountain in his speech at the March on Washington:

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

If you watch the old footage or listen to a recording, the crowd goes wild when King suddenly lists Stone Mountain, switching from the “from sea to shining sea” rhetoric to places that desperately needed to be put right.

As if Stone Mountain wasn’t a potent enough symbol of ignorant, self-righteous society, during our visit, someone was projecting a laser show on the relief, shooting off fireworks and blaring Southern rock music.

Fortunately, we followed our visit to Stone Mountain with a stop at the King Center, the world’s largest archives on the leader and the movement. King is interred there, in a crypt in the center of a reflecting pool. It was 2006 when we visited, and Coretta Scott King had passed away that January. She was laid to rest beside her husband. 


I received some wonderful books as part of the sojourn program, one of them being a compendium of photographs of King and the movement. 
9780810991828In this stunning book I discovered my favorite photograph of King. It was taken March 22, 1956. King’s first major act of leadership was as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association which organized the long but ultimately successful Montgomery Bus Boycott. (For which Rosa Parks is known.) This favorite picture of mine is a celebration as King leaves the courthouse, having been proudly convicted of “conspiracy to boycott.” What I adore about the picture is that it captures such personal sweetness between Martin and Coretta, backed by the crowd’s collective joy. IMG_7387
Never forget the dream.
 
  
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This entry was published on January 20, 2014 at 5:03 pm. It’s filed under Historical, U.S.A. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “MLK Day

  1. Pingback: Remember the Dream | Snail's Postcard Post

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