• 46°

Deborah Smith: Remembering Dr. King

Writer

Deborah Smith

By Deborah Smith

Special to the Salisbury Post

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is in the art that I create, in the words that I compose and in the steps that I take to ensure my future — steps that I would feel little motivation to achieve if I didn’t daily remind myself of the struggle that granted me the opportunities that I’ve been given. The struggle that King — and many others, named and not, in textbooks that shortchange our history — endured to advance the fight for equality that persists to this day in movements as expansive and mobile as Black Lives Matter and as minute as one determined voice amongst ignorance en masse.

As an artist, it is essential — at least in my personal experience — to create in the proper atmosphere and headspace in order to produce quality work. It takes more effort than it should these days to center myself in such a fashion; however, when I do, I think of several things all at once: my father and what he would think of it; my inspiration, ideas or point of reference; and, of course, the blessing and privilege with which I’ve been gifted to be able to enjoy these pursuits with little fear of my work being minimized or shunted to the side.

King said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

I strive to etch strokes of my character into the lines of my creations. A world where people can see that and not solely what I look like is one that I can somewhat reasonably say I live in. That isn’t to say everything to be done has been, but there are some victories that we can celebrate by merely being our true and natural selves.

I also recognize the freedom I’ve been gifted to speak my mind freely to the public without censorship. The greats were censored because they had a message to convey that oppressive forces feared would inspire insurrection of their coveted status quo. King was no stranger to this censorship, and he — among many others — was spied upon by the government to prevent such a thing from happening. We know this. We all do now, especially in the heated socio-political climate that we find ourselves in currently, in which we scrape and search for all manner of evidence of the subjugation and injustice committed against our predecessors.

Unlike before, in King’s day, when the “white moderate” would sit idly and wait for the conflict to blow over and return to forced and false peace, I can stand and speak. It will be heard, recorded, broadcast for the world to see. And if I’m shot down, my diverse generation will rise up like the tide behind me and rally for justice in far greater waves than ever before.

I will remember King when I apply for college; I will rejoice in the fact that my acceptance will be determined by my academic achievement and not my race, gender or background; I will be grateful that it’s considered just for me to be granted the same opportunities as anyone else, and unjust if this is challenged in any way, shape or form.

I remember King by living my life. I can make mistakes and be imperfect, and it won’t be attributed to my being African-American, but rather to my being human, as we all are — as Martin Luther King was.

And in doing this, I not only embody the dream that he so passionately described, but further its progression in every freely made expression of my creativity, burgeoning sense of character, and empathy and participation for and in the ongoing fight for the ultimate equality of all people — of every color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and background.

Deborah Smith, a high school junior, presented this essay at Let’s Get Connected Day. She is a writer and cartoonist — and a faithful wearer of t-shirts and jeans. She lives in both Charlotte with her mother, Yashica Belfour, and in Salisbury with her father, Pastor Anthony Smith of Mission House.

Comments

High School

North Rowan romps into second round of football playoffs

Nation/World

FBI had interviewed former FedEx employee who killed eight

Crime

Gastonia man sentenced for crash into restaurant that killed his daughter, daughter-in-law

Nation/World

Some call for charges after video of police shooting 13-year-old in Chicago

Business

State unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in March

Coronavirus

NASCAR approach to virus vaccine varies greatly

News

Judge rejects Cherokee challenge against new casino in Kings Mountain

Elections

Jackson tops NC Senate fundraising; Walker coffers also full

Local

Kiwanis Pankcake Festival serves thousands of flapjacks for charity

Coronavirus

Rowan remains in state’s middle, yellow tier for COVID-19 community spread

Crime

Blotter: Man faces sexual exploitation charge for images on Instagram

News

Defendant convicted in attempted murder case on the run after fleeing from trial

Business

Downtown Gateway Building to be renamed for late Paul Fisher

Coronavirus

Rowan County COVID-19 data for April 15

Local

Rep. Warren’s bill would prohibit parking in electric vehicle charging stations

Local

Historic Preservation Commission approves Integro Technologies expansion, Paint the Pavement project

Education

Faith Academy, RSS will negotiate over what goes, stays in elementary school

Crime

Teacher killed in Alamance County shootout with Mexican drug cartel

Coronavirus

Bill would give more tax breaks on COVID-19 loans

Nation/World

No response as divers knock on capsized ship’s hull

Local

Quotes of the week

Crime

Blotter: Man found on church property with litany of drugs

Crime

Man charged in connection to 2019 overdose death

Business

‘It’s our big time’: Salisbury Farmers Market reopens Saturday