Today is the holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. I haven’t addressed it every year, though last year was something special because it was the day before Barack Obama was sworn in as president.

It’s been a strange year, and I’ve sometimes wondered what Dr. King would have thought about the year in general. I have a great feeling that 2009 wouldn’t have been the year he was hoping for. He’d have been disappointed in some of the vitriolic rhetoric that kept coming up regarding what President Obama had to deal with; suffice it to say he didn’t come into office with the kind of economic fortune that President Bush Jr came in with back in 2000. He came in having to deal with U.S. forces in two other countries. He came in trying to do something right for everyone, and by year’s end has kind of what he wanted, but not in the way that most anyone else wants. He’s taken expected heat from the right and unexpected heat from the left, and his support among black people throughout the country is still over 90%, while his white support has fallen to around 40%.

The country really doesn’t know what to do with race now. Barack Obama is both the first black president and the first mixed race president. He’s had his birth record challenged. He had the New York Post equate him with a monkey, then not understand why they were wrong. He has another black man the day after say his wife looked like Stokely Carmichael in a dress. He had to deal with a representative from what I consider as one of the most racist states in the nation, South Carolina (stop flying the Confederate flag) yell out at him during a speech to Congress, calling him a liar. He had Glenn Beck go on TV and call him a racist against white people (uhhh, Beck forgot Obama’s mother was white and that he was raised by his white grandmother). And he has his children fighting over almost everything in public; how unseemly for a man who promoted nonviolence.

Frankly, I’m not sure Dr. King would have envisioned some of what President Obama has had to go through, but I think he would have expected some of it. Earlier in the year I wrote that just because Obama was elected president didn’t mean racism and bigotry ended overnight. I think Dr. King would have expected that as well. I doubt he’d have expected that a prominent black voice like Tavis Smiley would oppose President Obama the way he has. I also bet he’d have hoped President Obama had tried to do more specifically for black people, while realizing that politics don’t work like that and how bad it would have been for the country had he tried it.

This is the 24th year of the King holiday (oh yeah, South Carolina was also the last state to approve the King holiday), and I think he’d have been conflicted as much as many other people have been. Only a week after the earthquake in Haiti, I’m not expecting much conversation about the holiday; then again, I work from home, so I won’t have anyone to talk with about it anyway. So this is my tribute to the day; next year, let’s see where it all goes.

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