Beyond The Dream

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Free Image Photo ― Tony Spina/The Detroit Free Press ― Courtesy of Mia Watkins Author – Alabama Blogs and Bloggers (

Monday, we remember Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his commitment to freedom and equality of every human, no matter color of skin, gender, what you do or from where you come. He sacrificed his life proclaiming freedom, not with violence but with love. I believe we have made progress, since I was a kid growing up in the ‘40’s, ‘50’s and ‘60’s. But, it has been painfully slow.

It brought it all home to me on the severity of cruelty and hate, when I watched an old documentary on Turner Classic Movies the end of last year on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. It was directed by Frank Capra on WWII and why we fight

There was one part in the film I struggled to watch. I cried, hard, realizing my naivety of hate in the world. It was a scene of a live, crying baby being held, as its head was slid into a gas mask. There was a part of me, then, that understood there were times to make a stand in the face of hate, when all options have been exhausted.

In my youth, I witnessed some of the prejudices Dr. King spoke of and stood against, some of which still exist today, though not as open. Funny, you don’t realize the extent of it, when it surrounds you and you’re living it. It’s expected and a culture that is passed on from generation to generation. I guess you have to get away from it, like I did in moving west, to get a different perspective.

As a child, I visited my grandparents every summer along with my sister and five cousins. They lived in a small, southern town, just a couple of blocks from downtown on main street. Their house was the dividing line where whites and blacks lived. From their house into downtown is where whites predominantly lived and from their house heading out-of-town to the highway was where blacks predominantly lived, unless hired hands on the farms. Then, they lived in migrant-worker shacks not far from the fields.

On one side, we had a black neighbor, who lived with a woman who said she was his common-law wife. Their houses were separated by a huge hedge, across the driveway that grew almost above the neighbor’s porch. Over the years, my grandfather and his neighbor had heated shouting matches from the front porch or sidewalk.

They couldn’t stand the sight of each other and took turns setting off one or the other. Occasionally, the police were called and one of them was served with a subpoena and hauled into court. Above that and to be fair, putting aside their personal feelings on skin
color, defensive and aggressive personalities clashed which was a recipe for conflict.

One night, we heard a woman shouting from the street. She was mad, cussing and storming up and down the sidewalk in front of our neighbor’s house. She said she was his wife. She had come home and found him with another woman – his common-law wife.

We all woke up, seven cousins, Grandmom and Grandpop and visiting Uncle, who was a Baptist preacher. Grandpop was fuming, having been woken up from a deep sleep. Usually, we went to bed around 9 pm because he rose early to go to work on the railroad.

We all jumped out of bed, when we heard him get up and stomp downstairs, grabbing his shotgun. He was shouting, “I’m gonna’ kill ‘em this time”, with my Uncle following him, close behind, down the stairs and praying out loud, with the seven of us bringing up the rear.

My grandmother was already out on the sidewalk trying to make peace with the woman who was ranting, hoping to hail a policeman. It all got sorted out, no one was hurt and things quieted down for a while.

One day, my grandmother went out and chopped down the hedge. After she had done that, there was a peace that settled between them, though never spoken of aloud. It could just be felt. No more fights or arguments.

More years went by and my grandfather retired from the railroad and became sick and frail. It wasn’t long, when he died. I remember walking around the block to the Funeral Home with a couple of my cousins. It was an old Victorian-style house, with pillars and a large porch, nestled in the community on the block behind my grandparent’s house.

As we approached the Funeral Home and began to walk up the sidewalk, there was an elderly, black man with a straw hat coming out and down the stairs, walking toward us. He was leaving and tipped his hat. We looked in his face, as he passed by, and noticed a tear-stained cheek. It was the neighbor, who had come to pay his respects to my grandfather.

As I remember that story, it gives me hope for a better world. It serves to encourage me that the human race is not lost. I believe we are capable of living in harmony.

Will there come a day, like Dr. King dreamed of, when we put down arms and reach across the fence or hedge and extend our hands in peace? I pray we do. It won’t come from the laws of the land or the power of weapons but will come from a place within each of us ― the condition of the heart.


Pat from the ol’ kitchen table


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Acknowledgements: Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have A Drea more...

25 thoughts on “Beyond The Dream

    • Thank you, Susan. I’m there with you in holding out hope to live in peace. Those, like Dr. King, have helped us move a little closer to it. 🙂

    • He was an amazing man, Joanne. It was an incredible time growing up in that era with history unfolding before us. These men, Dr. King, President Kennedy and Senator Kennedy, were the voice of the times and their lives were sacrificed. I think if they were alive today, they would have disappointment that we haven’t moved along further than we have. But, I don’t think they would have been surprised.

  1. Your story well sad is so sweet. My grandparents were not perfect, they had their biases but didn’t believe in treating anyone as less than. in 1960 they were in Alabama traveling by car and stopped at a restaurant for a bite to eat. A black man came in and was told the “black” room was full. He asked if he could please sit at the counter for a glass of something cold to drink as he was overheated from working. He was told there was a hose outside he could use.

    My grandfather angry at his treatment, waited for his food to be brought to him, asked for a go-to container and immediately boxed up their meals, paid the bill (no tip) and proceeded to hand the food to the man who was denied service. He then drove to the next town before ordering a meal for himself and my grandmother.

    There are good people out there and I hope every day the good will win out over the prejudices that still survive.

    • Lois, thank you for sharing your story. It’s good to hear of the good in people instead of the bad. I liked that your grandparents showed compassion and feelings to do what’s right. You’re right in that we aren’t perfect. We ‘re a work In progress and doing better.

      I’m sure there are these types of things still happening in the States but I think they’re more isolated, thank God, than they were back then. Hopefully, we have learned some of the things Dr. King was talking about.

      Thank you for stopping by. I love hearing from you and your thoughts and reflections. 🙂

      • Pat, I agree, I see much more acceptance but I also see the prejudices are still there, just turned toward different behaviors rather than color of skin.

        My grandparents were quite the contradiction but they tried hard to be the good people they sought to be.

    • Hello Lois,

      First of all I introduce myself. My nickname is Ekasringa Avatar, but in real life, my name is Uma Bhurtah. I come from Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean and I am actually settled in the archipelago of the Seychelles, where my husband actually works and our young son actually studies.

      I stopped on the story you shared about your grandfather, and I pay all my respects to that wonderful man he was and the way he has put the staffs at their place to teach them a humanity lesson. Have you heard about the story of the old lady who wanted to be upgraded in the aircraft, because she was sitting next to a black man? The air hostess talked to the captain about the situation and then came to the lady’s rescue… but instead of upgrading the lady… she upgraded the black man, who has been insulted by such racist words by that old witch…. And as you are talking about solidarity, I would like to share a wonderful video with you and I am sure you will enjoy it since it’s a duplicate about what your grandfather did as an act of solidarity to the black man who was refused a seat in the restaurant:

  2. Heartwarming stories of kindness. I do believe the majority of people have learnt lessons since Dr King……At our last house we replaced a hedge with a small fence and it was lovely chatting to neighbours as we put out washing etc..One side were orignally from St Lucia and the other from Scotland….I say that flippantly as we move on to the referendum here in the UK..we all have different backgrounds, each has a unique and rich heritage but we just need to get along as human beings and celebrate our differences.
    Thanks Pat for making me think today:-)

    • Thank you, Diana. I’m happy you enjoyed the read and I liked your neighbor story. So true in what you say about celebrating our differences. That’s the beauty of being human. Our differences help us learn, create, appreciate or destroy, constantly challenging us to change and evolve, if we don’t kill ourselves first. 🙂

  3. ‘The condition of the heart’. That, my friend, says it all and the perfect way to end this powerful story from your family memories. What an amazing story, thank you so much for sharing it. How wonderful that in the end your grandfather’s neighbour was able to pay his respects. I remember when we lived in the States that Martin Luther King Day was a holiday and how my children would come home telling me all they had learned about him and what he stood for. Through them I learned a great deal about the man and about the terrible price many have paid for racial abuse. Sadly, it still goes on today but we can hope and pray that Martin Luther King’s legacy will never die away, and that ‘the condition of the heart’ will indeed be changed and healed. Thank you Pat for this wonderful post.

    • Thank you, Sherri, for reading and sharing your thoughts. Yes, it does seem to boil down to “the condition of the heart” and not so much on color of skin, faith, relationships, politics and on it goes. I grew up in the Kennedy and Martin Luther King era, though just a teenager. There was much controversy not only on the news but what you heard in family and social conversations. On top of that there was the Vietnam War so there was lot going on challenging and threatening deep-rooted beliefs.

      It was important for courageous men and women to come forth in this time and make us look within ourselves at real issues and face them. I think they did and we’re much better for it and have come a long way. I think his legacy will go down in the ages and live on for generations to come as a yardstick to measure and remind us how far we’ve come and what we still need to do.

      • What a time that was in America. The legacy of the Vietnam War lives on to this day.

        Remembering Martin Luther King’s legacy is vital and necessary and again, I thank you Pat for your wonderfully inspiring post,

      • Pat and Sherri, I fully agree with you when you say that all comes from the condition of the heart, and not on the skin color, faith, genre, relationships, etc. Those are only the external parts of every human being. Like Antoine de St Exupery once said, “you can see well only with the heart, since the essential is invisible for the eyes”. It’s a question of conscience about how we judge people. One more thing: No one is born racist… it’s society who teaches us to be racist, unfortunately. But it’s still possible to change and it starts with “the man in the mirror” 🙂

        • So true, Uma, thank you. It comes from the heart. I’ve always loved that poem called “The Man in the Glass” (you called it “the man in the mirror”). It’s one of my favorites and here’s a link to it:

          The Man In The Glass

  4. I love, love, love your story. Unfortunately, I believe the human race is lost, but it’s people like you that make me smile and know that there is good out there. I guess age and life experiences have a tendency to harden our hearts.

    Prior generations fought for things of importance, while at the same time, practiced morals and values in their homes. I believe we’ve lost those morals and values, and for that, what can we fight for now when the foundation of home is cracked.

    But because of you, I do hope that one day we find ourselves again. I hope we melt away the numbness and begin to feel for one another again. To find our homes again, and things worth fighting for so we can savor the history, and strengthen our futures.

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you, Denise, and well said. I can feel your sentiments and understand what you mean. The world is different but still has the same cruelty it’s always had. Now, it just comes in different packages.

      Likewise, I hold out hope that the human still has the same compassion, courage, and love for one another to make a difference it has always had. You see it quietly happening in families, heroes, small stories throughout the world. Doesn’t make news or create a lot of thunder. What we want is real massive change, thunder, but it just seems to be hidden from us for now awaiting to be awakened. It’s the condition of the heart. I think that will happen and maybe not too far in the distant future. 🙂

  5. Hello Pat,

    I have just read that post and I have been deeply touched by the misadventures that your grandfather and his neighbor have had shared together, in front of you who were still a child, and in front of your family. I may guess how stressful and hard it was for you to bear so much racial hatred between those both two men, and this for rubbish reasons. But look what destiny brought to those two men: when your grandfather passed away, the first stranger who appeared in front of you and of your family was no one else than the black neighbor, who paid you all his respects and shed a tear, a sincere tear, in memory of your grandfather. I think God, this time, taught a tough lesson to that black neighbor and that until his last breath, he obtained a chance to change and to become a better person.

    When you relate that incredible hatred between blacks and whites in USA, which slowly decreased in nowadays society, it makes me thinking about the long era of apartheid which occurred in South Africa during Mandela’s imprisonment in Robben Island. It also reminds me about the long fight Tata Madiba, since he was released from jail, had to do to suppress apartheid within South Africa and recognize it once for all as one only nation. But you know Pat, despite the numerous efforts made by Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela to decrease this big vague of racial hatred between blacks and whites, despite South Africa having been governed by a black president in the name of Nelson Mandela after years of strugglings under the authority of Afrikaner people, and despite USA having seen a turnover of his government with election of President Obama as the very first Black American president, with Michelle Obama besides him as the first black First Lady USA has known… Despite George W. Bush having been assisted by Condoliza Rice, the first black american state secretary… It’s sad to see that the separation between blacks and whites is still really fragile dear 🙁

    Even in cinema, it’s the same old story… Remember in the movie “The Pelican Brief”, where kissing scenes shared between Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington have been removed and even censored, whereas in the movie “Charlie”, you can see Wesley Snipes kissing and making love with Nastasja Kinski and having a marital life with a chinese woman as his wife and mother of two children… See also the TV serial Dynasty: you may see Diahann Caroll mingling with other white actors as a supportive character, but she has an affair with Billy Dee Williams who is an Afro American like her… See also, a couple of years ago, in the history of Oscar nominations, when the Best actress was Halle Berry and best actor was Denzel Washington, two Afro Americans… Slowly, and unfortunately unsurely, Afro Americans are having their place within the American democracy, but yet their position is still very fragile… And how not to remember Rosa Parks, the Afro American lady who refused to give her seat to a White American in the public bus on her way back home, and who became then a symbol for the Afro American community?

    And how about all the shootings made by White Americans over Afro Americans, whereas Afro Americans at some occasions tried to help White Americans during racial attacks and shootings to save their lives… You can retrieve an article of mine on which I mentioned about the hatred between White and Afro Americans on my post “We can stop hating black people… yes, we can!” (Source: )

    • I share your sentiments, Uma. Hatred and racial unrest is an ongoing issue. In some areas, it’s getting better, but it’s really hard for me to imagine what’s in the hearts of man that is so dark and evil and drives them to be so cruel, such as the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda a number of years ago.

      There is a book promoted by Dr. Wayne Dyer, for which he wrote the forward to, that is very moving and telling of the condition of the human heart. It’s Immaculee Ilibagiza’s first hand account of anger and hate and the miracles of forgiveness in the midst of genocide. It’s called “Left to Tell“.

      As horrid and devastating as it is in hearing these stories, love and forgiveness is shown to be much greater and more powerful.

      God help us to seek the latter. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Uma. It’s an important discussion and message.

I would love to hear from you. . .thank you for stopping by.

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