Thank you, Dr. King

I want to thank Dr. King on this day that we remember him and his legacy of fighting for the civil rights of all people of color. Had it not been for him, America and even the world might still be a very bad place when it comes to race relationships. There is no doubt that he changed America and the world with the help of the thousands and even millions who were part of the civil rights movement, as the ideology of human rights was born out of the movement he started with Rosa Parks. There were also many who suffered and died before Dr. King who fought for equality and a fair shake in life but many of their names are lost to history. So I also say thank you to the many unknown and forgotten warriors for freedom and equality.

The CNMI was the last state-level government in America to officially recognize the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and for that, I, along with many Americans, will be forever thankful to the CNMI government. While there have been memorial services in the past to recognize this very special day, it seems times have changed and needs to be a reminded that not only did Dr. King help blacks but all people of color, as Chamorros and Carolinians would have gone to school with the rest of us black folks back during the days.

Dr. King’s holiday is really about the Chamorros and Carolinians too. Just imagine if there had never been a Dr. King or civil rights movement—the local people may very well not be enjoying the sovereignty, equality and freedoms they enjoy today. This should be the one day that we can all look each other in the face and say i love you my brother & sister in the struggle for “injustices in America” and that we are proud and thankful for Dr. King and the ultimate sacrifice he made willingly for us all as he knew his days were numbered!

Being a young man in college and a member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, we were privileged to actually meet with Dr. King and gain some of his personal wisdom and insight. I can remember his last speech, “The Promise Land,” and I didn’t understand it then but he was in tears as he finished and I didn’t know why. It was only years later that I learned that he had been warned and his life threatened about helping the sanitation workers of Memphis, which was obviously on his mind when he prepared the speech that ended with “I may not get there with you but, one day, we will get to the Promised Land.” Yes, Dr. King put his life on the line to help the garbage men of Memphis and, when the strike ended, they became the highest paid sanitation workers in the nation. I have tried to follow the teachings of my mentor, even though many don’t want to accept it but you can’t pick and choose who is equal in the CNMI. Happy MLK Day!

Ambrose M. Bennett
Kagman, Saipan

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  • Mamaya Na Lang

    My Dear Friend Ambrose:
    I think that the intentions of your letter are good but your analysis underscores the big problem with the MLK Jr. celebration: it is a holiday for black people (even though you attempt to bring in local people into its orb) and tends to drive divisions between Blacks and Whites.

    Indeed, you completely you completely neglect to mention people who are not of color which we suppose you would mean Whites But then Ambrose what is the status of the Han ethnic group; Chinese, Korean, Japanese?
    Inclusivity is the key to our success on our islands and in the rest of the world. Only small numbers of non-Blacks actively participate in celebrating MLK Jr. Day. We see only politicians and others who are interested in currying favor with the Black community.

    Your assessment of MLK Jr’s life and celebration tends to reinforce the idea that Blacks (and people of color whomever they may be) are to be distinguished from others. In this regard MLK Jr. Day is a failure because it operates to raise divisions and stifles inclusivity.

  • Ioanes

    Ambrose: You turned MLK’s lasting contribution into a story about yourself. Don’t you think we know how to read and pay homage to his work?

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