Every year, on the day we celebrate Dr. King, I listen to his final speech. And each year, it’s a different line that stands out to me. This year, it was near the beginning when Dr. King is answering the question about “which age would you like to live in?” and after going from ancient Egypt, to Greece, all the way up until the time that he is living and says that is when he would like to live since:
The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.
— Martin Luther King, Jr. “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”
3 April 1968, Memphis, Tennessee
The nation was sick then and it is still sick. Some of the symptoms are treated, but we haven’t cured the illnesses that hurt our country. We haven’t ended poverty, which Dr. King laid out a great vision for solving. Nor have we ended systemic racism, sexism, heteronormativity, transphobia, and all the other ills that make this a dark time. But only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.
The stars to me that I’ve seen are an LGBT+Allies party at WordCamp US that saw a packed bar and exceeded everyone’s expectation. The stars for me are seeing thousands of woman preparing to march in support of woman’s rights. The stars that I’ve seen are Biloxi, Mississippi deciding to officially celebrate Dr. King’s birthday as his birthday.
It’s only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.
There is sure to be plenty of darkness in the coming years. The darkness never went away, but it’s through this darkness that we can see the stars and it’s these stars that make now a great time to be alive.
Listen to “I’ve been to the Mountaintop”. It may help you find the stars in the dark.