We Cannot Walk Alone. We Cannot Turn Back.

20 Jan

Years ago, when I was on tour with Junie B. Jones, I spent a day off in Washington, DC, bemoaning the fact that I’d seemingly lost my voice to some mysterious infection or allergy. Only a few days before, I’d woken up unable to phonate much above middle C – the sound just stopped. I felt choked and frustrated and scared and angry. So when I had the chance to spend a day by myself  – silent – in our nation’s capitol, I took it.

I spent the day walking. Walking around the museums of the Smithsonian Institute. Walking to the White House. Walking around the monuments and memorials on the National Mall. I’d seen all of it before but one thing I hadn’t noticed before was the small marble placard on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It marks the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech during the March On Washington on August 28, 1963.

The placard marking the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963.

The placard marking the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963.

I suddenly felt very moved to know that I was standing in the spot where such history had been made. Suddenly the loss of my voice became insignificant when I though of the fight and struggle that took place in order to give voice to millions of Americans. It was incredibly humbling and exciting.

This past September I was in Memphis, Tennessee, where I visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was shot. I wrote about it in my entry, “Walking In Memphis.” Walking through the museum reminded me of how far we’ve come as a country. Sadly, I am often reminded of how far we still have to go in our country’s struggle for equality – not only racial equality, for everyone. As Dr. King stated in his speech, “We cannot walk alone. We cannot turn back.”

The balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot on April 4, 1968.

The balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot on April 4, 1968.

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