Throughout this pandemic, but most especially in the very beginning, so many people expressed their gratitude for my colleagues and me on the front lines fighting COVID. My pastor called us “COVID Fighters,” and I have always loved that title.
New Yorkers, all on lockdown, would go out their windows and bang pots and pans in gratitude. In my hospital, we received tons of posters, cards, and other notes of appreciation. We were awash in food. And while we do not do what we do for the thanks, the gestures and expressions of appreciation were solidly appreciated.
As time has passed – and pandemic fatigue and weariness set in across the world – these kind gestures of appreciation have faded. As we enter the third year of this scourge, we feel more alone now that we ever did before. And still, on this Dr. Martin Luther King Day, I would be remis if I did not express my appreciation.
The struggle for civil rights in this country predated my birth. It even predated the arrival of my parents, who immigrated to the United States for a better life. Still, the struggle of Dr. King and so many countless others made life for my parents that much easier. For this, I am eternally grateful.
I know for a fact that my parents would probably had not been able to set roots where they did – in the suburbs of Chicago – had it not been for Dr. King and the civil rights movement. They could not have given us the wonderful life we had as kids.
I am pretty certain I would not have been able to enjoy the privileges and opportunities that I have enjoyed had it not been for Dr. King and the civil rights movement. My right to live where I want, eat where I want, work where I want, sit where I want on a plane or subway – rights I take for granted – would not have been possible were it not for the sacrifice and struggle of Dr. King and the civil rights movement.
The fact that I can vote without having to pay a tax, or answer a quiz, or do anything else of that sort has only been possible because of Dr. King and the civil rights movement. The fact that there is even alarm in our country over the threat to voting rights in so many states is due to Dr. King and the civil rights struggle.
As Americans, we all must do what we can to stop the eroding of the right of every eligible citizen to cast a vote and have their voice be heard. As Americans, we cannot let the good fight – and “good trouble” – of Dr. King die in vain.
All these things that I take for granted are thanks to Dr. King and the civil rights movement. And so, I must say thank you.
Thank you, Dr. King, for all you have done for the cause of justice in this country. Thank you, Dr. King, for the countless hours you spent nonviolently resisting the injustices rampant in our society. Thank you, Dr. King, for giving your life so that my children and I can live a better one in America. Thank you so much, Dr. King, and thank you to all those who have struggled and fought alongside him for the civil rights of all.
In his famous, “I Have A Dream Speech,” Dr. King said:
In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
I am beneficiary of his coming to the nation’s capital to “cash [that] check.” I am beneficiary of his refusal to believe “the bank of justice is bankrupt.” I am beneficiary to his struggle – one that took his life – to “cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice.”
Thank you so much, Dr. King. I – and our nation – are forever grateful to God and to you for all you have done.