There was a cartoon not long ago that had these large brown wingtip oxford shoes, the sorts that are popular with lawyers and other men in suits. And the cartoon said, “Obama’s shoes” and that they were big shoes to fill.
It got me thinking about people who I’d think of as wearing “big shoes” and how grateful I am for them stepping up, marching, doing the things that have mattered to push/demand/help our country become a better place.
My values are relatively simple. I want my country to be a decent place with decent people. When I think of decency, I think of offering everyone respect. I think of seeing all as human, equal and deserving of the same opportunities and treatment. I want fairness. So yes, I want decency. That, for me, is the starting place. The very least that we owe each other.
We, as a country, fall short on that.
So today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I am grateful for those who worked toward this. I am grateful for those still working on it.
I am grateful for Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
I am grateful for Coretta Scott King.
“It doesn’t matter how strong your opnions are. If you don’t use your power for positive change, you are, indeed, part of the problem.”
I am grateful for Bayard Rustin.
“When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.”
I am grateful for Dorothy Height.
“If times aren’t ripe, you have to ripen the times.”
I am grateful for Rosa Parks.
“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
I am grateful for James Farmer.
““Courage, after all, is not being unafraid, but doing what needs to be done in spite of fear.”
I am grateful for Diane Nash.
“There is a source of power in each of us that we don’t realize until we take responsibility.”
I am grateful for John Lewis.
“We built a coalition of conscience, and that we can do it again, and we can go forward, and help redeem the soul of America.”
I am grateful to all these people. To all the people who show up, who are marching, gathering, making phone calls, organizing. Thousands upon thousands of us who are committed to doing the right thing. Thank you.
“When people tell me nothing has changed, I say come walk in my shoes and I will show you change.”
I have no interest in those who want my country turn away from the decency and rightness that these people stood for and stand for. Instead, I want to attempt, in whatever way I can, to walk in their footsteps.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. May we move closer to being the country and the people these heroes dreamed we could be.
Let us keep walking.