This is the enduring image from this date, April 4, 1968, the last day alive for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To many people today, this picture looks staged, but it’s the real deal. Dr. King was assassinated at 6:01PM at a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, there supporting garbage workers on strike, and his killing set off the biggest racial riot in the history of this country. That was a little odd, considering Dr. King always talked about peaceful, nonviolent protest.

It’s an interesting question to consider, how most of our responses to negative impetus is to strike out and try to physically hurt someone else. To react nonviolently to such things is to have the greatest self control there is; to convince others to follow your example and suffer the fate of others who don’t quite see it the same way takes charisma. Dr. King had both; I can’t honestly say I’ve had both in my entire lifetime.

I always like to reflect on the year that was and think of how the King Legacy either affected things or not. This past year we saw the first black president, Barack Obama, elected in November, and a host of articles linking the two in some fashion came out, including my post titled A Change Done Come. This has had the effect of giving this country not only its first black federal Attorney General, but also the Republican party has named its first black party leader.

Okay at the top; what about the other direction? Well, black unemployment is up, black on black crimes is up, more black fathers are killing their families then themselves, more black men are being arrested for domestic violence and other crimes in general, more black men are dropping out of high school… no, I wouldn’t say that reflects well. Some of these are a reflection of society, but the divide in income between blacks and whites doing the same job has grown also. In a time where it seems walls have broken down, we still have incidences such as the New York Times racist post in February, this story about how black drivers are treated in Tenaha, Texas, this latest story concerning NFL running back Ryan Moats and his dying mother-in-law, and the distasteful display of Dr. King’s own children suing each other and his estate; so much for carrying the family legacy with decorum.

I wouldn’t say that America has really progressed as much as one might have expected in the last 41 years. Sure, there are great gains, but it’s as though race is an issue people are scared of talking about, and it’s interesting seeing how the press is dancing around an incident that happened in Binghamton, NY, yesterday, as it involves immigrants and the assimilation process into American life. One news station seemed to go out of its way to make sure an Asian reporter was on the scene; I found that interesting. Nation of cowards? Interesting take, to be sure.

Either way, the landscape of America is what it is, and Dr. King still remains as part of the conscious of this country. It’s something that I’ll do what I can to make sure people never forget.