Realizing the importance of our past and our future

Published 9:43 pm Thursday, August 28, 2008

I consider myself a history buff. I minored in it in college. However, I was somewhat disappointed in myself when David Snow brought to my attention that yesterday was the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

I had no idea. Dr. King and his famed speech pre-date me by almost 20 years, but I am well aware of the speech and its national impact. I grew up in the ’80s. Much of the rampant racism that plagued Dr. King’s time was well on its way out while I grew up. Black children and white children went to school with one another, played together and lived in the same neighborhood.

My elementary school was about 50 percent black and white. I had many black friends; many of those children spent the night at my house, and I spent the night at theirs. We knew we were different colors, but at six and seven years old, we didn’t know there was any reason why anyone would have ever cared about that. We never would have imagined that a little more than 20 years before, the things we enjoyed – playing on the same baseball teams, swimming in the city pool and eating lunch together at school – would have been prohibited in many parts of the state.

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You can’t truly appreciate where you’re headed until you fully understand where you’ve been. I understand where civil rights were and have seen how they’ve improved. I’m glad to be raising a child at a time where they continue to change for the better.

– Jason Cannon