When I was thirteen year of age, in 1956, my dad, who had worked for Orkin Exterminating Company for some time, took a new job with one of the managers of Orkin. His friend and boss at the time wanted to begin a new exterminating company in Montgomery and he asked my dad to move there and help him get the company started.
The move was something I looked forward to with anticipation. Having always lived in a rural setting, moving to a larger city seemed like a wonderful adventure.
As it turned out, the year was filled with historical significance as well as adventure and I learned, first-hand, about the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The year before, Rosa Parks had begun the movement that would continue to sweep the south, but prior to Montgomery, I was hardly aware of what was happening. I had ridden buses in Morgan County, AL. With embarrassment, I tell you that I had black Americans get up and move to the back so that I could have a seat. I was a child, and I remember feeling embarrassed, but not understanding that I should have refused to take their seat. Now, in Montgomery, the sounds of bombings in the middle of the night and newspaper headlines made me very aware of the struggle and I began, for the first time to really think about segregation and the injustice of that system.
The church bombings were cruel, wrong, and this I understood. I also understood that Dr. King was brave and heroic to take a position of non-violence when black Americans were being treated so terribly. I know that his position had a positive influence on me.
There are those in Dr. King’s family who are still working to accomplish his dream of non-violence and seeking to live as Christ admonishes us.
I hope the day will arrive when Dr. King’s wish is realized:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.