What does April 4 mean to you?
By Kevin Stoda, reflecting from Taiwan
In the USA, April 4 is the day we recall that Martin Luther King, Jr. a great a American--a great world citizen--was assassinated as he supported the poor and deprived laborers and citizens in Memphis, Tennessee.
The death of MLK would be followed by weeks of burning cities and schools from Wichita to Detroit--as anguish and disappointment turned to rage at the loss of the man-who-had-a-better-dream for you and me.
That was back in 1968--when the US was already unwilling to come to terms with its violent past and violent present. The violent present of 1968 included the Vietnam War. The violent past of pre-1968 America had included lynching and segregated schools from Tulsa to Florida and KKK rallies from Kansas to Rio Grand. It had also included the violence against native Americans and Hawaiians.
King had been raised both into a culture of violence and a culture of hope. One writer noted, "Born into a culture whose main solace was Christianity's Promised Land awaiting them after the suffering of this world, King took on the power of his race's presumed destiny and found in himself the defiance necessary to spark change. He ate, drank, and slept death. He danced with it, he preached it, he feared it, and he stared it down. He looked for ways to lay it aside, this burden of his own mortality, but ultimately knew that his unwavering insistence on a non-violent end to the mistreatment of his people could only end violently...."
On the other hand, Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928.
Maya Angelou has warned us, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the
moments that take our breath away."
April 4 is also the day that USA forces freed the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp in Germany back in 1945. "It was part of the Buchenwald concentration camp network and the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by U.S. troops."
Sadly, on that very same day of celebration, i.e. April 4, 1945, the Soviet Union would occupy Hungry as the new war, one called a Cold War, would sprout and bloom across most of the continent of Europe in the following weeks, months and years.
Similarly, April 4, 1967 is a most important day in oratorical American history. On that date in the Riverside Church in New York, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his most challenging speech to all of America, "Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence."