This month we have celebrated and honored the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for all of his sacrifices and the wisdom he shared with us — for such a time as that in which he lived and for this in which we live. We celebrated him for the footprint of justice, faith and peace that he left on our world. He tried to point us the way with words and action only God could have poured into him. But most of all we remember him for his faith that should give us hope.

Dr. King actually believed in what he spoke and lived. He said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” His faith was unwavering in the belief that humans have a part that is made of gold and that part is called the best self.

It is apparent that there is a growing sense of fear and unease in our communities and the feeling is justified. What we must do is become more and more aware of our surroundings, especially in light of the individuals who were arrested in our area recently.

This awareness should remind us of what Dr. King faced when the law was not on his side. He went to bed nightly knowing that the only force that stood between him and death was the hand of God. I wonder what he would think if he could see what is still going on in the world 52 years later. We live in a time when we must face truth about the degrading level some men will go to in order to remain in the position of power and control. We live in fierce and urgent times and the truth is blowing in the wind.

Dr. King fought the forces of greed and white supremacy his entire life on earth, and now from the grave he continues to fight them through those who are left behind to continue the journey — because he left a spirit that cannot be killed.

When there were those who said to him “Dr. King you must slow down,” he fought even harder with a sense of urgency. When he was in jail and received a request from his minister friends calling for a cooling off period, he was upset that they would even call for him to slow down. He had hoped that they would hold the concept that no man’s freedom should be held up because of his skin color. He basically said to them that it is not your freedom that you are fighting for it is mine, and therefore are you saying that it is alright for me to wait? He went on to say that injustice in one area is injustice everywhere.

As long as Dr. King was dealing with dime store lunch counters and sitting in the front of the bus, that was okay. But when he started moving and demonstrating against the wars, and talking about increasing the wages of the garbage workers, that was stepping over into another arena ... dealing with the economy is tampering with the economic foundation of America.

The mentality of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani has pervaded this country just below the surface from the beginning of its birth. If you research facts about what happened here in this city, county and state, you will uncover some dark truth about mysterious deaths and the disappearances of black boys and men.

My friend Rose remembers when John F.’s only son, Hiram, was shot to death at the Depot by the police. There was no inquiry. During those days no one cared and no one understood. If a few did care, like Rose, the force was too powerful to go against. Rose saw this and did nothing, but what was she going to do? Run and tell it to the ones who did the whisking-away at midnight and get whisked away herself? The marginalized individuals were black and poor and no one understood. Knowing this fact, Dr. King continued to march and make his mark in spite of the prevailing threats of death.

Dr. King’s message was — and would still be — for all people to remain calm and thoughtful. Blacks must learn to remain focused on learning to love ourselves individually and collectively. Dr. King stated, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too much of a burden.“

We must not focus primarily on the white supremacy or the racism that is engulfing this country. When we do that, the problem looms greater. Every problem that we are facing in this city, county, state and country, Dr. King encountered during his lifetime. He made a decision that he would seek God for the solution.

We must turn our minds to the solution. Our work must be focused on our creative beauty, which is key to our survival. As one of my friends said to me, “You people must get up off your behinds and work on solutions yourselves. That woe-is-me mentality is worn out.” One way to solve the problem is for all of us to look for the righteousness in each other. Along with righteousness will always come repentance.

And let us continue to celebrate the MLK holiday because love was the guide by which King lived and because once lit it is an all-consuming-fire. Let us all work hard to keep the fire of love alive.

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright and a director in Rome. She is the founder and director of the African American Connection of the Performing Arts Inc.

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