To effectively communicate the impact of MLK would require 10,000 words or 50,000 words. However, for the sake of brevity I’m going to try and take a page out of Rudma’s book and do it in 500 or less.
For a variety of reasons, my friends (many of whom are black) and I have always joked, in a positive way, that I must be part black. While it’s just a joke, I must seriously acknowledge that in no way am I black nor will I ever fully understand the struggles that the black community has had to overcome over the past 200+ years in this country. I am white male, from a middle class family, and have had almost every opportunity provided for me that one could wish for. The one trait that makes me a minority, being Jewish, is not something that is glaringly obvious when meeting me. While my culture has been persecuted against for thousands of years, and I myself have felt the wrath of anti-semitism many times, and I don’t mean to belittle it, but it is not nearly the same experience as being black. I can maintain my religious beliefs privately, a black man cannot keep his skin color private. Nor should he want or need to.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact on me comes down to two things: the value that my multi-cultured friends provide in my life and the belief in myself to dream big and achieve.
Without MLK, I would never have grown up with the friends and experiences that I have. My friends come from every background, every culture and every color; and I am truly a better person for it. If not for the strides that MLK (and many others) forced this country to take, I would never have been afforded this opportunity. I would not be half the man I’ve become (personally, intellectually, athletically and professionally) if not for the specific friendships I have, that have come from people of a variety of colors. I cannot put into words how truly appreciative of this I am.
MLK also impacted my life motivationally. From the time I was 7 years old I knew that his “I have a dream” speech was about more than just equal rights. It was about the belief that every person has the right to dream big, and that truly anything is possible to achieve if you have the strength of will to make it so. MLK taught me about perseverance and achievement far before and far more impact-fully than anyone else. I will never settle for the limitations that others put on me, because I believe I have the power and ability to exceed them.
It is for these 2 reasons I am able to write Jones and B, because if not for Dr. King, a young black man and a young white man would never be able to come together on equal footing to voice their opinions, agreements and disagreements in a public forum. My ability to write this blog with Jonesy and my belief that we will be successful if we commit to it are living examples of the impact that MLK had on my life.