Brief reflections before turning in on MLK Day

The last known American slave, Sylvester Magee, died in 1971, just five years before I was born. Now, at 9:19 pm on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I’m finally stopping to reflect on how slavery’s reality is much closer to us than we might think.

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My kids, who were off school today for the holiday, are in bed. I’m sad to say that we barely discussed slavery, civil rights, etc. There’s always tomorrow.

It’s almost impossible to comprehend the fact that men and women with scars on their backs from the slaver’s whip, lived long enough to experience radio, telephones, television, the atomic age, and the space program. The reality is that the world they died in looks a lot more like our’s does today than the one in which they were born. Remarkable.

Here’s a rather interesting interview with a former slave, Fountain Hughes, which was recorded five years after the birth of my dad. My grandmother was born just 51 years after this man was emancipated, and here he is in 1949 at the advanced age of 101. There are numerous interviews out there for you to discover, but I offer this to you. He begins by telling of his grandfather, Wormley Hughes, who was owned by Thomas Jefferson. Good stuff…

If Martin Luther King, Jr. hadn’t been assassinated, he’d be 87 years old and perhaps still vigorous as ever. I wonder what type of message he would wish to convey today. Something to ponder…

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