• on this, the fiftieth anniversary •

On this, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Doctor Martin Luther King, I recall, as a child, back in the sixties, seeing a long, long train of black men and women, walking silently in the rain, holding the hands of their children, along the side of the main road, on a soaking summers day, as we drove slowly past, on our way to our yearly family summer vacation.

Some people had umbrellas, as I recall, but most were soaked to the bone, in what looked to be, to my five-year-old eyes, their Sunday best. It wasn’t wet Sunday shoes, slogging through wet grass, that got my attention, though I did marvel at that(as wet shoes were a big no-no, in our house). It was this: every face looked as if they carried an unnamed burden. All, in unity, a veritable marching community, who had a plan, and were determined to see it through. Or, that’s the impression I seem to recall. A very pervasive reverence, to be sure.

My parents sat silent, in the front of our ‘56 Buick, and answered none of my questions about who they might be, or where they were going, in the rain, in their Sunday shoes.

Of course, I couldn’t have known where all these ‘church folks’, were headed, with their silent prayers, or what they were going to do, when they got there.

I only figured out, years later, what I had (very probably) seen: history in the making. And, at the head of the throng, very probably, marched Doctor Martin Luther King.

I still think about the people, on that long ago summers day, on a rain-soaked highway, and marvel at the remembrance of their conviction, in the face of danger, and of their courage and fortitude, in the face of adversity.

~ Tim Burchfield



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