This month we celebrated BLACK HISTORY MONTH. Last month we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. As I look at what has been happening in the nation in recent years, I see a great contradiction. Words of honor are spoken by many during both of these times that have been set aside to honor those worthy of honor. However, I wonder if much will change in the coming months.

Tomorrow will be March 1, 2023. Will the honor continue or will the dishonor and disrespect, and hate remain to the spot light? Dr. King’s message was love, and his methods were non violent in pursuit of justice – not hate and violence marked by destruction of lives and property. As it was then, so it is now; there were just laws that were in line with our Constitution and our Rule of Law; and there were those who obeyed those laws. On the other hand, there were unjust laws in certain states that violated the Constitution and our Rule of law, and there were those who disobeyed the just laws preferring to ignored our Constitution, Rule of Law and the outcome of the Civil War.

There are those on both sides of the conflict who have continued the war in spite of the outcome. Dr. King’s message was love – not hate, and his method was non-violence. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed and the unjust laws including Jim Crow laws and others were removed from law books state by state. The laws were no longer on the books, and that was and is a good thing. He accomplished his goal. My concern is that hate has been and is still being taught on both sided, and this contradicts the purpose of these times set aside to give honor where honor is due, and acknowledge the sacrifices made but those who wanted their Constitutional rights.

The laws were changed, but changing laws does not change the hearts and minds of some people. Changing the laws opened doors that had been closed. Dr. King sacrificed to open the doors that had been unlawfully closed in some states after the Civil War, and the passing of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Sometimes I wonder if some have even read the Constitution, or paid attention to everyday life in these United States today. I was born with brown skin 76 years ago, and I go anywhere I want to go, and do what I want to do; and I see no White Only or Colored Only signs. I go to any school I want to, and even visit any church I want to visit.
When I lived in Atlanta, I had five Bible studies and two of the were in White homes. At this writing I am 76, so I am old enough to know what was in the past, and what is now. Above all, I know a lie when I hear it. Sometimes it is about attitude and qualifications not skin color. Anyone with a chip on their shoulders provokes conflict regardless of the color of their skin. They need a change of heart and that can only come from God. Changing laws opens doors, but it takes God to open hearts and minds.

Black History Month was instituted to include those who had been excluded from the history of this nation because of the color of their skin. Their accomplishments were many and recognized by many, but because of the laws in the early years their contributions could not be included in text books. George Washington Carver was even called to Washington to talk to Congress about his inventions. There were many positive interactions between those who came out of slavery and the rest of the nation in the early years, but for some reason there are those who want to ignore, deny or treat as unimportant the good things that happened while they focus on highlight, and magnify the bad things that happened. There was good and evil then, and there is good and evil now; and good and evil has existed since Genesis 3. Christians should know this. People choose to do good or to do evil, individually. The Unites States and the world has both kinds of people. That is not going to ever change. But, laws can be and have been changed. The minds and hearts of people is a different thing. When the laws in the land are right, the door is open to anyone who chooses to enter. When the laws in the land are wrong, doors are closed to some. The laws in the land say that you can, but there might always be the need to deal with those who disagree. Just disagree lawfully. Dr. King disagreed lawfully.

Both of these holidays represent the effort to correct the wrong doings of some in the past. Although many lies have been told about slavery in the United States of America, the fact remains that slavery was never a National Institution, and slavery was not the issue that caused thirteen independent self governing colonies to unite and form a nation. King George, III was the issue that forced them to unite on the grievances noted in the Declaration of Independence that affected all of them. Some colonies practiced slavery while other colonies opposed slavery. That difference existed before and after the Declaration of Independence. Slavery was legal in the British empire at the time, and in many other countries around the world. The USA did not create, establish or invent slavery as liars have asserted boldy declaring that the USA was flawed from the beginning because of slavery. I realize that my use of the word “liars” may appear to be offensive and too strong for some, but the use of words like “revisionist,” in my opinion, waters down, and attempts to sanitize the lies at the expense of the truth. There bold repetitive forceful assertions do not change the truth. Many have believed their lies, but the truth remains true – slavery was not established when the colonies came together to petition King George, III. King George, III was the issue. Let me quote part of the Declaration of Independence. “…The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, …” May I remind you that the colonies had been under British rule since 1607, and they functioned until King George, III pushed them too far resulting in the 1776 Declaration of Independence leading to the Revolutionary War. Similar to slave holding States that pushed too far leading to the Civil War. Similar to those defying the results of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments who pushed too far leading to the Civil Rights Movement. Free people will not submit to tyranny forever. In each of these events those pursuing freedom did it with God in mind, and God gave them the victory.

Dr. King’s message was love not hate, and the purpose of BLACK HISTORY MONTH was not to promote, facilitate, magnify, or teach hate. Hate has become a thing in recent years. I was born with brown skin. In my lifetime I have been Colored, Negro, and Black. I did not embrace the new African American designation that was popularized in the 1980’s because of what I saw associated with it. My great grandparents were true African Americans. They were children born into slavery, and freed when the Civil War ended. Hate and self pity were not what I saw in them or my parents. I only remember seeing one of my great grandparents and I was told that she was 104 when she died.

There was not a victim mentality with them. My parents and grandparents were working people on both sides of my family. My grand fathers worked in the steel mills, and pipe shops long before the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed. Believe it or not there were companies/businesses that hired Colored men/Negro men before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Of course I do not know what it was like for them on the inside of those companies because I was only a child, but I do know that they were paid well, and we could go to the company store and clinic. Yes there were separate waiting areas with signs designating who was allowed to sit where. But that was the way it was then, and that was the law. Those laws were in place until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. We survived and some even thrive in spite of the laws at the time.

Dr. King’s dream was that the content of our character would define us and not the color of our skin. Many Negroes and Black Americans have made great accomplishments because of the content of their character, in spite of the color of their skin. In recent years, however, I have seen a shift from fulfilling Dr. King’s dream and following his message of love to making demands because of the color of their skin regardless of the content of their character. Where did the anger and bitterness come from in the lives of those who never sat in the back of the bus, grew up without Colored only and White only signs, going where ever they wanted to go, and doing whatever they wanted to do. Who taught them to hate everybody? They did not learn that from Dr. King. Dr. King worked with all kinds of people and some who marched with him were White.

There is no law that will make everybody like everyone. Laws do not change hearts, but they do make honorable people behave. Present day Pharisees and Sadducees still don’t like Jesus. What makes some people think that everybody should like them. That will never happen. The laws have been changed, but it takes the love of God to change the hearts of men, if they will be changed at all.

I started working in private industry in 1967 in Atlanta, Georgia walking to my first job and riding the bus to my next jobs. In most places I was the first or second Black person hired. Did everybody there like me being there? No. But did anybody bother me? No. I did my job and got my pay check. I was not there to be liked. Some were friendlier than others, but like I said earlier – changing the laws will make honorable people behave. But changing the laws will not change the hearts of people. There are still people on both side teaching their children to hate. The laws have been changed and some have used this to their advantage while others have not. I used to tell young people working around me with bad attitudes to qualify first. Why complain when you don’t qualify in the first place. Besides that nasty attitudes in the workplace does not go well with moral. Have you noticed how many people political and other positions have left jobs because of hostile work environments.

“Systemic racism” ended when the laws were change. Before the laws were changed, that is the way it was. I sat at the back of the bus, and could not go many places or do many things, BUT that changed a long time ago when the laws were changed. Black people and “African Americans” are everywhere. Some are there because of the content of their character, their credentials, and their abilities. Others are where they are because of the color of their skin and quota requirements. The content of the Character does matter and the proof is of it is demonstrated in the job performance.

I honor Dr. King because of the content of his character and his accomplishments. I honor Black History month because I want to and need to be able to highlight to my grandchildren the accomplishments of Black Americans who have succeeded in doing well in these United States of America in spite of all of the negative, race baiting and race card playing that have been promoted for several decades. I like to tell my grandson that he can be and do whatever he chooses and prepares himself to be and do. Then I back it up with examples of present day Black people who have been successful in this nation because of their abilities and their character, in spite of the color of their skin.

Look at those who have done well and before you cry racism or play the race card, consider you ways and study Dr. King and those from the past and those in present days who have succeeded. There are many in every field imaginable. If you want to know, you can find them. They did it. I went to night school at Georgia State College in the early 1970’s and there was an older Black man in the class who was 74 and had always wanted to go to college. After he got his children and grandchildren through college, it was his time to go. So he did it at 74 years old at an integrated college in downtown Atlanta with only a few of us there. I don’t remember where he worked, but he made enough to send his children and grandchildren to college.

Earnestly celebrate Dr. Kings birthday and Black History Month the rest of this year and be ready to give honor where honor is due, and doing what they did. It worked. Because of what they did in the past doors are open now that were once closed. Hate is not the answer. Be known by the content of your character.