As we celebrate MLK Day today, many will post his speeches, quotes, and interviews. Others will honor King by spending the granted time off with family field trips to the museum or to serve in the community. There is no denying the magnitude of a man that King was, the legacy that he still is ,and yet I find freedom in not only his greatness, but in his failures.
I expected great things from Ava Duvernay’s SELMA ,and I received that and more from the film. I would be negligent if I didn’t mention the beauty of the shots, the attention to detail, and the necessary recognition of the women of the movement. Yet, what resonated with me most were the flaws of this great man. Not since Katori Hall’s Mountaintop had I seen such a grand job done of rounding King out with depth. Yes, he was a brilliant man, and yet like us all he had some fears, some doubts, some vices. The movie did not focus on these vices; it simply brought them to the surface. The thing about King ,as it is with all of us, is that we are not the sum of our mistakes or flaws. Our misfires and missteps are part of the process. We pray to overcome them, but even if we do not, I pray that like King, our worst days and character flaws are not what we are remembered by. I pray that we are remembered by the changes we made for others no matter how small. A smile or a kind word can be just enough to change the course of another’s life.
Humanizing our heroes doesn’t hold us back, it propels us forward. The exposure of their imperfections allows us to relate to their humanity and reason, “I, too, can change the world.” So today, as we honor a great man and a great movement, let us not forget the huManity of it all. A man of great vision, great insight and great wisdom was a man of great mistakes (some known and unknown) and it was enough to change the world! May we put one foot in front of the other and march forward into our destinies, our purposes, our calls and then…leavealilroomforgrace.