My paternal grandmother is 85 years old. She came up in a time where law enforcement sprayed protesters with high powered hoses, beat them mercilessly and used trained German Shepherds to attack them. Today, we reflected on the racial injustices, the killings of the Dallas officers and all things in between. She told me about the day Dr. King was murdered in Memphis, our hometown. She remembered it like yesterday. She owned a bodega called The Sundry. She couldn’t get bank loans to open the store because she was Black, but she saved up to start her own business. On April 4, 1968 a terrified woman ran into her store. She was sweaty and out of breathe and she’d just told my grandmother that “they” shot Dr. King over at the Lorraine Motel!
Memphis was about to riot. Civil war had began in the streets. The beacon of hope for Black folk had been killed and WE WERE PISSED! Grandma closed her store and went to safety. Back then, there were no cell phones so all she could do was hope that her 6 teenage children were safe. Memphis burned that night. People lamented over the assassination of Dr. King.
The next day Grandma went to her store to find the windows broken and items looted. She was able to salvage her investment.
When I asked her how she felt about that. She said, “The young people were mad. Just like they are now. These things will happen when people are tired and angry and hurting.”
Today, Racial tensions are at an all time high! The privileged have been hit. The disenfranchised have been hit. Innocent people, both Black, Brown & White have been murdered because of the color of their skin. The attacks on White officers have given the majority a small glimpse of what the minority feels everytime a Black person is killed at the hands of law enforcement. That sh*t stings doesn’t it? I mean, to see a person that could be your dad, uncle, brother, son killed for NO REASON makes it all seem so real. I’m able to hurt for them because I know the pain.
Everyone is in pain. Be careful out there everyone. Now is the time listen more, empathize with your neighbor. Give LOVE. Give love away today please.
If you’re ever in Memphis, please visit the National Civil Rights Museum. The place of Dr. King’s assassination has been turned into a museum that commemorates the African American experience. I can guarantee that you’ll never be the same!