LRHS discipline dean Debra Shannon shares a birthday with Dr. King.

Ranch Reflections are articles written by LRHS students and staff who want to share their experiences, thoughts, and concerns. This is a great opportunity for Mustangs to branch out beyond traditional news stories.  This edition features the special bond LRHS discipline dean Debra Shannon has with Dr. King. This is a special reprint from 2018.

“True nonviolence is more than the absence of violence. It is the persistent and determined application of peaceable power to offenses against the community.” – Dr. Martin Luther King

Perspective as a woman of color

 As a woman of color, my family instilled in me that I could become whatever I wanted to in life.  I was raised knowing that I am valued and that I am a valuable member of a loving family and the American nation.   All that I needed to do would be to become educated and apply my talents and gifts in meaningful ways to help myself and others.  Furthermore, I was taught that I always had to be better than my Caucasian counterparts because there is a different standard of excellence that I must adhere to in life, due to the color of my skin.  But, no matter what, I knew that I belonged. I knew that whatever I achieved, I had to face it with the understanding that I had to work hard and not expect any handouts.

Dr. King understood what it meant to be African American in the south as he experienced many injustices that only an African American would know.  He longed for a world wherein his children, (all children) would be judged not by the color of their skin, but rather by the content of their character.  I too have that hope that same dream six decades later, that one day, a person’s character and their word, will be more important than one’s skin color.  I believe that Dr. King would be deeply saddened if he were alive and could see how racism is still very rampant in our society.  We have made strides, but when remembering the very recent protests about the killing of people of color in the streets of America in the last few months, we still have a long way to go.  However, in this twenty first century era I believe that we, as a nation are taking tiny steps towards unifying a nation of diverse people.  The present generation is taking a stand against racism with a loud active voice against injustice at every level. 

In the last decade I have seen not only the first African American President, I now have the privilege and honor of witnessing the first African American female Vice President.  I am overflowing with pride to know that there have been in President Obama’s administration and now the Biden/Harris administration, educated, capable, and qualified people of color in the White House executive level who have led and will lead our nation toward a path of healing and unity.  Whenever I think of President Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris, my chest swells, and I think….They look like me!  It is my hope that the new administration will be able to start the process of righting many wrongs and injustices for all people.   Dr. King sacrificed so much that I would be able to experience the blessings that I experience now.  I do know that when African Americans gain rights or  privileges other people of color and the poor gain the same rights and acquire a bigger voice.  No longer will people who look like me just be expected to clean, garden, and cook at the White House.  Dr. King and his sacrifice along with others have helped to make this day possible in spite of the odds.  

 In the words of Jessie Jackson, “ I am Somebody.  I was somebody when I came.  I’ll be a better somebody when I leave.  I am powerful, and I am strong. 

Special bond

I have a special bond with Dr. King in that we share a birthday.  January 15th is a special day for the nation.  President Ronald Reagan signed the bill in November 1983. The first federal King holiday was celebrated in 1986. It took longer for all of the fifty states to adopt the holiday. This great activist, Baptist preacher, father, husband, and son had a dream for all of mankind.    Equality at all levels within the societal norms of the greatest country in the world, America.  Most think that he only fought for the rights of the African American person.  Not so, he fought for everyone’s rights.  His struggle, his sacrifice, has benefited people of color as well as the poor, and the disenfranchised at every level. 

We celebrate Dr. King’s birthday with parades, banquets, and performing community service.   However, it is important that we give back to our community in a way in which a man who sacrificed so much for so many is not only celebrated but his ideals are “passed on” to the next generation.  We are in an era wherein we celebrate random acts of kindness, however, I believe that it is more important to become a nation of people who will allow kindness to begin as a mindset, permeating our being to the level of residing in our hearts, thereby becoming a heart standard, then and only then will we see a better, kinder world, everyday!

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