Monday, January 19, 2015

As We Remember Dr. Martin Luther King...

On this day when we remember Dr. Martin Luther King and his famous speech, instead of getting on a high horse of how great we are and how horrible those who came before us were, let's be positive. Let's remember not only those whose names we know, but more importantly, those many who have been forgotten and whose names have been erased from history:

- the many who fought a gruesome civil war that ended in the abolishing of slavery in America.

-meanwhile over in Europe, many courageous students in Bucharest were protesting the Romanian powers that be. Protesting enslavement of the Romany (aka the "gypsies") and demanding that they be freed.

(As a side note: it's really interesting to see the parallels between Romany slavery in parts of Europe and slavery in America, and both were abolished at around the same time)

- those who in the 1870s, 1910s, and in the 1940s voted DOWN proposed laws for a nationwide ban of interracial marriage and won every time.

- Zane Grey, who in 1922 wrote a book that I'm on a mission to get everyone to read titled The Vanishing American. It is a love story between a Native American man and a Caucasian woman. It also shows a sympathetic portrayal of Native Americans in the early 20th century. It was first published as a serial in the 1922 editions of The Ladies Home Journal. Due to it's popularity and the positive impact it had on the public (from what I understand, it was quite popular throughout the 1920s an 1930s), it was published as a novel and then adapted to film. For whatever reason, this book never gets any recognition today and I think it's time that changed. In fact, reading reviews of those who HAVE read it, many seem to be of the opinion that this book should be read in schools, as Native American history often gets brushed aside.

- Yul Brynner and Charlie Chaplin. Sure, we remember them for their acting and filmwork, but who remembers the fact that both had Romany blood and were very passionate about speaking out of their heritage, the plights of the Romany and becoming spokespersons for many causes and activism? Google Yul Brynner Romany Music. You'll be amazed.

- the many Africans, Irish, Native Americans, and Romany who worked side by side as slaves on plantations (yes, Romany were also brought over to America as slaves, courtesy of Oliver Cromwell).

- the many of all races, ethnicities, and genders who fought for civil rights throughout the centuries. Not just the decades, but the centuries.

This is only a few examples as there are many who have done great things only to have their names erased. What can you do to change that? How about some self-reflection today: is there any underlying prejudice you might have? It doesn't even have to be racial. It can even be a subculture, religious group, age group, etc. Take some time to educate yourself. We all have something about ourselves that we can change for the better.

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