My brother and I recently embarked on an impromptu 19-hour road trip from my home in Columbus to his in Dallas. As we approached Memphis around dinner time, we stopped for barbecue. We didn’t really have a choice. It’s road trip law that you must eat whatever the town is famous for.
The BBQ joint we chose just happened to be next to the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King JR was assassinated by a sniper on April 4th, 1968. Renovated, preserved and now a civil rights museum, it feels like sacred ground.
It was late on a Sunday evening, the tourists were all gone, so the grounds of the hotel/museum were a ghost town, complete with all the eerie, creepy, lonely feels. Witnessing where this true American hero took his last breath at the hand of hatred, I was surprisingly moved and challenged to examine my heart for the lingering prejudice that I pretend is not there.
Standing in front of that balcony — that shrine to hope and love and a dream — made me want to be a better person. To honor not just his legacy, but all of humanity.
I was reminded by this random stop on our road trip that there are no coincidences. I needed to be there and absorb that history lesson because it changed me, improved me somehow.
Our country can feel like a mess sometimes. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the latest reports of bigotry, racism, hatred, and divisiveness. But when I look for it, I also see love, hope, growth, inclusion and infinite possibility. I see people working together to achieve MLK’s dream, not in some distant future generation, but in our lifetime. And we’re no longer seeing things in just black and white, but every color in the rainbow.
To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what part I’m supposed to play in all of this. But I’m open and willing, listening and seeking for opportunities to do what I can, with what I’ve got, right where I am. And I realize that’s easy for an upper-middle-class, white, male business owner to say. It’s a lot harder to actually do.
But that is no reason to not try.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.