A couple of Sundays ago, my grandfather passed away, two days before his 91st birthday. He shared his birthday with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My grandfather, like Dr. King, also grew up in a very segregated Alabama.
My grandparents always expressed to us the importance of voting and obtaining our education. I know I have probably taken those things for granted at times. It wasn’t until I recently read the book This Bright Light of Mine, written by former SCLC/SNCC worker Maria Gatin that I really came to understand why my grandparents left everything they knew and loved and moved to Gary, IN.
The stories of voter suppression of African Americans that didn’t have the tools to properly educate children in Wilcox County where my grandmother grew up were so familiar. I came to find out that I had family on the bridge on that infamous Bloody Sunday in 1965. They were marching for voting rights and quality education amongst other rights.
Today, I find myself still being an advocate for some of those rights and quality education is one. I saw a post on Twitter that said if we don’t keep fighting, we are not honoring Dr. King, but for me, it would dishonor my grandfather, aunts, and cousins who protested and marched so they would have equality and also so my children and I would also have equality.
I think it is only fitting that we are laying my grandfather to rest this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. My grandfather’s vision did not die with him. I will continue to advocate for quality education for poor and minority children; my grandfather and those before him worked too hard for me to not keep fighting. They instilled in me that all children can and will learn.