of Courage Inspire Martin Luther King Day Celebration
by Patric Hedlund
"I remember the first time I was called nigger.... It was
New York City, I was a Texas girl nine years old standing on
a street corner licking an ice cream cone...a car goes by and
voices yell out, 'go home nigger...!'" The story is being
told by a neighbor from Pine Mountain.
She is grown now, a mother herself. Her children play happily
with others, tumbling like puppies in the center of a pleasant
room ringed by about 20 adults exchanging tales - moments of
insight - when they first collided personally as children with
the hard fact that we live in a world often divided in ways
that can chill the heart.
Chuck Testa told of his family being called "Guinea Wops"
by people opposed to Italian immigration to the United States.
For a passing second, a flicker of the confusion experienced
as a small child crosses like a shadow over the face of each
person telling a story.
That flicker hints at the astonishing experience of encountering
a wall of hatred from a perfect stranger for the first time,
the kind of hatred that springs from something mysterious to
youngsters not yet indoctrinated in the science of fear and
control that is at the root of racism.
Simba Roberts told of growing up in Texas, learning how to put
out fire bombs with strips of wet sheets when the Ku Klux Klan
came on Night Rides to terrorize his neighborhood of 300 African
Ruth Handy and Kwan Hearns spoke about the need to step forward
to speak gently to awaken our friends and acquaintances when
we hear unconscious expressions of prejudice toward others.
Heidi Puskar from Finland said she had never heard of Martin
Luther King in her schools as a girl. "I didn't know about
segregation in the schools in America."
Paul Puskar said "My wife brought me here today. I learned
historical things I didn't know about before. It is ironic,
watching our children Lisel and Hans playing together with the
other children here, surrounded by the pictures of Martin Luther
King's struggles to make such things normal."
He said he is working on a documentary film called "In
Search of Kennedy," about the legacy of leadership from
the era of the man known as JFK and the man known as MLK, considering
how the qualities they brought to their times might serve us
in meeting the challenges of our own.
At the MLK memorial, a moment of silence is held, asking for
the safety of soldiers who are in Iraq at this moment, in harm's
way as people commit warfare and murder guided by prejudice
based on religious differences.
an Inspiring Life
by Ruth Handy, Pine Mountain
In the summer of
1966, at the age of 19, I felt very moved by Martin Luther King's
commitment to the ideal of non-violence.
I decided to honor
this feeling, to overcome my fear and to join the open-housing
marches led by Dr. King near Chicago, where I lived. I walked
with others, including nuns, priests and ministers of many faiths.
Even though police protected us - walking on both sides of our
marchers - rocks were thrown at us, and some people were injured.
We continued to have faith in our purpose of bringing equality
to all without letting our minds think of violence or revenge.
We knew that Dr.
King had been jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, where he wrote
one of his most renowned speeches. He did not stop his activism
and was not afraid despite receiving as many as fifty death
threats a day for his efforts to fulfill the dream of white
and black children living in community together. Toward the
end of his life, Martin Luther King knew that he probably would
not live to see the fulfillment of his dream. He was not disturbed.
He had been granted a vision of an America free of racial tension
Dr. King set a high
standard for a purpose-driven life of faith. He followed the
principles of Jesus. He studied and honored Mahatma Gandhi,
who helped bring independence to India.
As a resident of
Pine Mountain today, I continue to feel great admiration for
Dr. King's courage. He helped establish in America that all
people are created equal. There are no longer hidden barriers
for people of color to own homes even in remote areas such as
our Mountain Communities. We do not have to be afraid.
King taught us that
non-violence can remain a goal uppermost in our minds when facing
difficulties with our neighbors, fellow students or even people
driving the freeway near us.
Martin Luther King
won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965.
His "I have
a dream" speech from August, 1963 at the Washington Monument
is shown on TV every year near his brithday.
January 15 is now a national holiday and this year, mountain
residents are invited to a celebration in music and film on
Saturday, Jan. 13, 12:30 p.m. to honor Dr. King, at the Jizo Peace Center at 2012 Pioneer Way, in Pine Mountain.
Mel Weinstein's photos from his trip to the King Center in Atlanta,
Gelorgia will be on display. Call (661) 242-6956 for more information.
Handy of the Jizo Peace Center at the ceremony
commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the World War II atomic
bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Handy was on a Peace Pilgrimage
with people from numerous countries gathered at the Hiroshima
Peace Park. Above, she is with a Japanese friend who played
music for the event to honor those killed by the atomic bomb
and to dedicate themselves to seek nonviolent means of resolving