Pioneers want a full appreciation of MLK Day - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Pioneers want a full appreciation of MLK Day

Rutha Harris is an icon in the civil rights movement Rutha Harris is an icon in the civil rights movement
W. Frank Wilson W. Frank Wilson
A protest in downtown Albany in 1961 A protest in downtown Albany in 1961
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Our national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior is Monday. Many people will simply spend the day relaxing away from school or work.
    
But those who marched alongside the great civil rights leader, who shed blood, and had friends die for a more civil world, hope future generations will understand the true meaning of the holiday, and the movement.

Three days before the Martin Luther King Junior Day, and the parking lot at the beautiful Albany Civil Rights Institute is mostly empty.

W. Frank Wilson, the Executive Director of the Museum, believes his generation hasn't had enough straight talk with young people about the struggle they lived and bled through. "I don't think we have driven home the seriousness of the day and it's not just another day off," he said.

"Consequently, there is a real disconnect between what happened and our young folks today.  It is not a matter of disrespect, they just don't know and we have not done a thorough job of passing the baton," Wilson said.

"I have wondered myself how can we reach them? Some of them want to be and some of them don't.  The majority of them don't want to be reached and that's hard," said Albany Movement member Rutha Harris.

Hard for this Civil Rights icon, a founder of the Freedom Singers, to witness, especially how the majority of people approach the MLK holiday. "We take it to relax.  And, it shouldn't be."

Rutha Harris is now 75 years old.  Her sister, Juanita, is in her mid-80's.

They have a dream for how Dr. King's day should be celebrated. "It should be a day of service because that is what MLK Jr. was about. Service to others."

Service to others,  in honor of a man,  in fact an entire generation,  who gave so generously,  their efforts not forgotten.

"I pray that everybody who has living breath in them choose this day as a day of service," said Harris.

Rutha Harris and her sister suggested several easy service projects for Monday.  One was to simply pick up trash in your neighborhood.  Ms. Harris also suggested visiting the sick and aging in a nursing home or a hospital as acts of charity on Dr. King's holiday.

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