Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 17, 2014

HAMILTON: Is Martin Luther really the King?

Niagara Gazette — If there are any failures in black Niagara today, then it is our own fault.

In an America that was once seen as black and white, it was through those old black and white television sets that I, and millions of others like me, watched the civil rights movements of the 1950s and ‘60s. It was there that we first became familiar with that great civil rights leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

But being young, we did not learn what it all meant, simply as a result of watching the flickering images on those small, round screens, nor through the adjustments that we had to make on both the horizontal and vertical hold knobs of those sets.

We learned pain and the plight through the images that were reflected in the eyes of our parents; those who had come to New York and other northern states to escape that reality of which we were then bearing witness — the fire hoses, the biting police dogs and brutalizing batons, as well as the mass arrests of those who sought nothing more than the equal opportunity to learn, earn and to leave an inheritance for their children; this, through the inheritance left to them by the American Constitution and through their own ancestors, friends and neighbors who fought abroad for their freedom. But, upon returning, in too many backwoods and town squares, many of them found themselves hung by the lynchman’s rope by those who looked nothing like themselves.

The images were blurry in our parents’ tear-filled eyes and we cried because they cried. And then we went out to play and, for the most part, forgot about it; much as we now do as adults when we see things like the horrors that take place in Syria, Ethiopia and other war-torn parts of the world.

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