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where I will promote the karat gold and sterling silver genuine gem stone jewelry that I lovingly design and fashion as well as muse over the daily doings of my American family struggling to keep our heads above water in 2010.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Day (to me)

I was raised in Boston, MA.

I am the 1st daughter and second child of 6 children.

My parents and grandparents were 1st and 2nd generation Irish Catholics practicing liberal democratic politics during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's.

I attended freedom school during the boycott of the Boston Public School system in 1963 over segregation in the neighborhood schools.  Over 8,000 black children participated in this event.  I was one of very few white children in the church classrooms. The particular issues raised and dealt with at that time were lesser quality teaching materials, lack of any "Black History" for black students, lack of black teachers as role models in the community and crumbling classrooms. 

I took classes in Black History, was introduced to text books about formerly unknown black history makers and scholars and sang "We Shall Overcome" with the conviction of a young girl who had been forever touched.

In 1965 I marched alongside Martin Luther King and Reverend Ralph Abernathy to the Bostom Common in a Freedom March - linking arms and swinging my red scarf proudly.  I was 10 years old. 

My parents "bused" their children to schools in black neighborhoods.  I attended programs in all black neighborhoods and finished my high school education in Copley Sq at a program that originated in Dorchester, MA called the Model Demonstration Sub-System Senior HS.  At the time I was part of a 14-20% minority population of white students.

It was an incredible upbringing.  Did I feel that I "belonged"?  Yes I did, due to the nurturing that I received from the key black leaders in the programs that watched out for their "experimental" white students.  I had a thick skin, and recognized the sameness of the bigotry that I had seen in my white neighborhood as no different or more right than any bigotry that I experienced as a minority in the black community.

When I was about 12 yrs old I complained to my father that since I hadn't been alive during slavery in America, and that neither I or my family members had participated in the segregation of blacks, why did I or we have to pay the price in the world that we lived in?

My father very wisely and sternly explained that as long as I had a white face in a world where blacks continued to be segregated, where prejudice against blacks still prevailed then, I too, would bare the guilt and the shame of those before me.

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" (the Black National Anthem) I learned this anthem as a very young girl and sang with Martin Luther King proudly then and now as I live his legacy in my everyday life to bring equality to all regardless of race, color or creed.

Happy Birthday!


  1. Wow, what a story!! You were totally in the front line of a huge part of our country's history!! You really had amazing parents.

  2. yes, you are right. thank you for the acknowledgment...it is greatly appreciated.

  3. Your parents were definitely brave in raising you as they did in those times.

    No offense to your father but that statement is wrong and part of the problem today. "...as I had a white face in a world where blacks continued to be segregated, where prejudice against blacks still prevailed then, I too, would bare the guilt and the shame of those before me." NO! Not today.

    I will never teach my son that he should feel guilty for the sins of past people who he's never met, never even heard of yet, and who he has no connection to. Should any German child born after WWII feel guilty or be punished due to the sins of the Nazis? It's absurd! Those who promoted that evil are the only ones who should be punished.

    My boy will be friends with (or at least acquaintances with) people of all colors. He won't need to be "bussed" anywhere to be integrated. He will learn that the United States was not the only country who participated in the sin of Slavery but we were one of the first to fight and spill blood to end it. And he will learn that slavery exists today in other parts of the world but is ILLEGAL here! He will also learn that not all slaves were black and that today throughout the world there are slaves being sold of all ages and colors...and that it is a SIN!

    So, what your father said then might have held some weight then, it does not apply today. As MLK said...we should be judged by the content of our character...NOT the color of our skin - and that includes whites, blacks, yellow, brown, or purple. I refuse to feel guilty for something I had nothing to do with and no control over. I was not alive during segregation. I have never seen a "white's only" anything. So perhaps MLK's dream truly has come true...except for all the white guilt peddlers who want to keep the politics of race alive.

    Sorry for the rant but this issue (white guilt) drives me crazy.

  4. Casto - It's about responsibility! You cannot fix the past (or present) without taking responsibility for the events that occurred. It's like any social issue that we take issue on in this country or other. You can base your opinions on how you "feel" but that won't change anything unless you take the time to read the history, understand the longstanding ramifications and work to fix the problem. Why do we keep going around and around about social problems in this country? You have to peel through the layers in order to affect any change...otherwise it's as if what happened to many, (be it any race, color or creed) didn't matter but of course it DOES matter and will always matter to those who it happened to.

    It's not white guilt...it's acknowledgement. I can see more clearly because I acknowledge the past. I feel no guilt - I do every day in my life what I can to educate myself, my children and grandchildren about the world around us. This is where I can affect the most change - this is where my responsibility lies...just like it does to you and your children. What I learned as a child (at 12 when my father taught me probably the most important lesson in my life to date) has allowed me to see outside of myself and my own circumstances. I believe I have positively changed many around me by example.

    The point is that if you totally separate the past from the present in your sons life, how will he defend himself from those that bring forward hatred - whatever it is. If he were german or jewish would it not behoove him to have an understanding of the hatred that still prevails today? Or does it not matter, because it doesn't directly affect him?

    Pick any social issue...it doesn't really matter what it is - we cannot get past them in this nation because the subjects are just too volatile and we don't have the courage as a nation to have the honest discussions in order to make the changes that need to be made.

    I don't mean to rant either...healthy debate and discussion is what makes the world go 'round
    and should be dished out with kindness and understanding in order to bring people together.


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