Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will. Zig Ziglar
A woman with whom I once worked seemed to talk non-stop and loudly, interrupt incessantly, gossip about whomever wasn’t in the room, constantly complain, and live quite happily in martyrdom.
It seemed nothing and no one escaped her negative spin. She was good at it. She could twist the happiest moment of someone’s life into a horrendous mistake. She seemed to enjoy it too.
At first, my judgmental mind thought her behavior to be quite inappropriate. I simply didn’t approve of it. But after weeks of working with her, the thought of spending even one more moment in her presence sent me into, well, her world.
Her negativity was infectious. More and more, I found myself thinking about her negativity, talking with others about her negativity, and complaining about her constant negativity.
For a while, though, I listened to her whenever she followed me into the lunchroom or the into the office we shared at the time. I didn’t know what to say, or do, or even think. I was held captive.
I’d excuse myself from the one-sided chit-chat as soon as possible, wanting to someday be honest enough to kindly tell her that I choose not to listen to gossip. Instead, I chose avoidance. I avoided eye contact, and any and all contact. Whenever I saw her coming, I’d get going and make for a quick getaway. I worked hard at it, too.
And it was exhausting because whether I listened to her or not, or even managed to momentarily escape her altogether, I was still held captive by her negativity.
I interacted with her only a handful of times a month, but her negative presence lingered on in my life. And I didn’t like it. But what I didn’t like didn’t really matter—I wanted to look inside myself to come up with a way to escape, not just avoid, a way to just let go of the hold this negativity had on me.
And when I did look within, I saw that I was the one exaggerating the negative. I chose to keep negativity within me even when she wasn’t around. This negativity was mine. So, as with most unpleasant things in life, I decided to own up and step up, to take responsibility for my own negativity. Instead of blaming, avoiding, and resisting the truth, I would accept it. And, somehow, I would ease up on exaggerating the negative.
I welcomed the situation as it was, opening up to the possibilities for change within me and around her.
I knew all about the current emotional fitness trends telling us to surround ourselves with only happy, positive people and to avoid negative people—the us versus them strategy for better emotional health. I saw this as disconnecting, though. We all have times when we accentuate the positive and moments when we exaggerate the negative. We are all connected in this.
Instead of attempting to continue to disconnect, to avoid being with negativity, while just denying my own, I wanted to reconnect, with compassion and kindness toward both of us.
She and I shared in this negativity together. And once I made the connection, and saw our connection, a few simple, and maybe a little more mindful thoughts began to enter my mind, and my heart. This reconnection would be made possible through love.
And these simple little, love-induced thoughts spoke up something like this:
Patience can sit with negativity without becoming negative, rushing off to escape, or desiring to disconnect from those who choose negativity. Patience calms me.
And while I’m calm, I can change the way I see the situation. I can see the truth. Instead of focusing on what I don’t like, I can see positive solutions. I can deal with it.
I can try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Why might this woman choose or maybe need to speak with such negativity? I can be compassionate.
Why does what this woman chooses or needs to say cause me to feel irritated, angry, or resentful? I have allowed her words to push my negativity buttons. I can’t blame her.
She doesn’t even know my buttons exist. She’s only concerned with her own needs. I’ve never even told her how much her negativity bothers me. I see what truly is.
I see that we are both unhappy with our shared negativity. People who complain and gossip and sacrifice themselves for others aren’t happy. I can help to free us both.
I will only help. I will do no harm. I have compassion for us both. I will show kindness toward both of us. I will cultivate love for us, too. I choose to reconnect.
I will start with me and then share love with others. May I be well and happy. May our family be well and happy. May she be well and happy. I choose love.
And whenever I saw her, I greeted her with a kind smile. I sometimes listened to her stories, excusing myself whenever her words became unkind, much the same as I had done before. But I noticed the negativity no longer lingered within me. It disappeared as soon as I began choosing love again. I was freed. And I was happier. And compassion, kindness, and love had made me so.
My desire was not to speak my mind in an attempt to change hers, to change her apparent need in choosing negative words. I did hope she might free herself from negativity and liberate herself by choosing positivity instead. Our re connection was complete, quite unlimited, too, and it gave me hope that happiness could be ours, shared through our connection.
I continue to cultivate this loving connection, being compassionate and kind whenever people, myself included, choose to speak negative words, for we all do from time to time. We are positively connected in this negativity thing, and everything else. And compassion, kindness, and love happily connect us all.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” ~Mary Anne Radmacher
ALL ABOARD!!! Merry Monday!!! KICK IT!!!
Carefully, I wrote my New Year’s Resolutions neatly and secretly in my PC journal, which chronicled the ups and downs of the past years of my life. After looking back over my notes I truly believe there isn’t one reality show on TV now that could top this. My 2013, 12, 11, 10 – heck back to 1993…well you just couldn’t make this stuff up….WHEW! Anyway as Forrest would say:
Well passengers…Here’s this week’s inaugural ride…
whether they’re made on the first of January or any day of the year, are refreshing. It’s a chance to start again—the closest you can get to a “redo” of the past.
In prior years, I made resolutions that were destined to fail. Read one book per week. Write a book. Learn to step.
It wasn’t that the previous resolutions were bad. Rather, I had failed to put any sort of plan in place to help me succeed. I only had a lofty goal, not steps laid out to get me from where I was standing to where I wanted to be.
But this year, I need change. I need a fresh start. I don’t need the seemingly constant stress and the disappointment that plagued me last year to carry over into 2014.
So my resolutions are as succinct as these words: Be happy. Find Peace…and maybe Find love.
And unlike prior years, I’m making a plan for how to transform my resolutions into my life. It felt weird trying to develop a way to be happy. But this year has to be different, and if planning is required, then plan I will. And hey, who says resolutions have to be made on January first?
The plan? Take steps. And keep taking steps—don’t freeze in place.
I’m taking steps. I’m going to embrace therapy..again.
And I’m going to rid the room of that BIG WHITE Elephant on the living room couch who’s whispering… Yo Chuck-miester what if the “Be happy” thing doesn’t work out?
What if I make all these changes and I don’t end up happy?
What if the decisions I make are wrong…actually wrong? Charlotte is a diffrent place from the DC Beltway life.
What if life is still really stressful and exhausting?
It took me a while to realize what all the what-ifs were really disguising. Superficially, the panic appeared to be the fear of not achieving the resolution.
In reality, though, the fear of not achieving the resolution was a cover-up for the fear of failing as a person. What if I took all the steps to create the life I wanted and it didn’t work out? Would I be left with an unfilled life on top of an unfilled resolution?
Everyone talks about how going after what you truly want takes hard work and perseverance. Few people mention the courage required. It takes courage to forge your own path in a forest overgrown with what-ifs and brimming with the beast of society’s potential judgment.
Being honest with yourself about what you want, whether it’s happiness, a new job, or significant other, is scary. When carving your own path, you don’t know what’s in store for you ahead.
I came close to letting the fear of what-ifs consume me and abandoning my goals along with the little progress I had made in the last few months.
Fittingly, however, the one thing that overpowered all the what-ifs swirling in my thoughts was one single what-if: What if it all worked out?
What if “WE” succeeded in creating the life we envision? It doesn’t need to be a perfect life; every life has a few rough spots or bruises.
And for me that hope, that possibility, that single gnawing question is enough for me to take the leap of faith and go forward with my goals.
That isn’t to say that I now believe unequivocally that my resolution will work out and every moment of my life will be Kodak-worthy. Rather, it’s to say that I now counter each doubt that creeps into my mind with the single rebuke: What if this all works out?
Focusing on the positives of your goal or resolution is a much more powerful motivator than concentrating on the negatives.
So passengers…this week let us acknowledge the negatives as potential pitfalls to be aware of, but then counter them with positives. Truly immerse yourself in the positive potential of success.
If your thoughts of doubt are enough to stop you, then your positive thoughts are enough to help you succeed.
“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.” ~Albert Einstein
A short while back I was walking to my apartment, I heard the voice of a child who was walking in the same direction with an adult across the street. With his enthusiastic, high-pitched voice he asked, “Remember we went on a plane? And it was really, really high in the sky?” Then just a few seconds later he asked, “Remember we saw a baseball game?” And then a few seconds after that, “Remember we had spaghetti?”
A part of me wanted to keep walking parallel from them, even when I arrived at my place. I wondered: What else might he remember? What else did he enjoy? And just how purely did he experience those things? Odds are, he could recall all kinds of little details that most adults wouldn’t even register. He may have remembered the long line at the airport, but he probably offset any annoyance with pure fascination over the engine outside his window. He may have felt disappointed if his team lost, but he probably savored his hot dog, regardless, and couldn’t wait to describe the taste. He probably got messy in that spaghetti, but thought that was absolutely awesome.
And somehow, in his childlike memory, eating that pasta was just as worthy of remembering as flying in a plane.
Kids have an amazing ability to recall all kinds of little joys, likely because they appreciated them in those moments in a way we often don’t as adults. It’s partly about mindfulness; it’s hard to reminisce about simple pleasures if you weren’t really immersed in them when you experienced them. But it’s also about how we internalize those events in the present. Do we look back with excitement and wonder, remembering everything that made those moments magical? Or do we look back with disapproval and judgment, focusing instead on everything we felt was lacking?
Maybe the key to joy is learning not just to create it, but also to recycle it—to bask in all the good that has been and realize how fortunate we are for having known it. In fostering this type of gratitude and awe, we increase our ability to recognize the joy that is right now.
Hey Passengers, just wanted to share this with you again to get the week off to a great start! Hope it helps this week…
“What I learned from the Wizard of OZ” KICK IT!
Ya know fellow passengers I find life’s lessons in the darn’dess of places, especially in movies and books. Movies like Shaw Shank Redemption, Forrest Gump, The Bucket List and even Dr. Suess books like “O The Places you will go!”. I love movies with symbolism that make ya think deep…When I die I hope you guys will be at the repass saying boy, he was a deep thinker!
Today though, I’d like to share with you…”What ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Taught Me About Life…”.
When I was a kid, the Wizard of OZ came on once a year. As I reflect back I laugh at how we had to be on our best behavior as my Mother used that (whether or not we could stay up to watch the OZ’ster) as a bargaining chip for good behavior. Needless to say, beds were made, teeth were brushed and I put my flatulation skills in the closet for awhile.
Anyway, I digress. It’s hard to believe, but “The Wizard of Oz,” one of the most beloved movies of all time, celebrates its 75th birthday this year. Not only has the classic story of Dorothy and her funny friends entertained generations of moviegoers, it has also taught us some unforgettable lessons about life. Look what I learned from Dorthy and the gang .
Accept your friends for who they are
A true friend will help you on your life’s journey and get you through all the problems big and small that may arise. So accept your friends, quirks and all, and recognize when they need a little help too. Because you never know when you’ll need them around to rescue you from some flying monkeys.
Follow Your Own Yellow Brick Road
Although Glinda the Good Witch directs Dorothy to the yellow brick road, explaining that it will lead her to the one person who can get her back home to Kansas, let’s face it: Dorothy probably could have found the road on her own. It was right there in front of her. Discover your own path in life”what you want to be, where you want to go, how you want to live–and be sure to sing and skip throughout the journey.
Don’t hide your true self behind a screen
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when we discover the Wizard is just a man. He has no magical powers. He doesn’t even have a booming voice. The lesson? Don’t try to be something you’re not, because the people who matter in this life will love you no matter what. Can a Brutha get an AMEN!?!
There’s no place like home
Although it should go without saying, home means more than just your house or apartment. It’s wherever the people you love and who love you”are found. You can have many different “homes,” and even if you haven’t visited in a while, you can always go back.
Look within for your power
We all remember the scene where Dorothy misses her balloon flight home, starts to cry, and is subsequently notified by Glinda that with those fancy ruby slippers, she had the power to return home the whole time; she just needed to discover it for herself. When in doubt, look within for the answer. You’re more powerful than you think.
Well, I hope I wet your appetite enough to hop back aboard tomorrow!
I’ve lived in Seven different states in my years here on earth. During those stops I’ve learned that home is much more than four walls and a familiar neighborhood. Home is the God who understands each of the unique desires, thoughts, hopes and dreams of our individual hearts. Nothing can separate us from His love. Not time zones or cultures or the things we wish we could change about ourselves.
Christ is the bridge.
He brings us back into the deep heart of God. No matter where we’re coming from. Out of emptiness or loss or disaster, Christ brings us back to His Father. The only real home we can always count on. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20 NIV
So the tip for this Tuesday is – find your welcome and home in Him.
Merry Monday, All ABoard for another ride on the train! Passengers, we all know that everyone worries sometimes. Everyone gets scared, except me…(LOL!)…well maybe every once in awhile. But, I’m working on it. And you should as well. Kick it (Today’s wine with the meal…the song):
I’m not saying that worry is an illness, it’s normal, even healthy, responses to threatening situations. But if you feel extremely worried or afraid much of the time, or if you repeatedly feel panicky, consider seeking medical advice. Anxiety takes many forms. It can make you so uneasy around people that you isolate yourself, skirting social gatherings and passing up potential friendships. It can fill you with such obsessive thoughts or inexplicable dread of ordinary activities that you cannot work. Anxiety disorders can be mild, moderate, or severe, but overcoming anxiety generally takes more than just “facing your fears.” Many people need help in dealing with these problems.
But getting help has always been easier said than done. As with many mental health issues, there has long been a stigma surrounding anxiety. People are ashamed to admit to phobias and persistent worries, which seem like signs of weakness. The shame, combined with the tendency of people with anxiety to avoid others, is perhaps the biggest obstacle to relief and recovery. Without treatment, many individuals become more fearful and isolated. In extreme cases, they are so imprisoned by their anxiety that they are unable to leave home.
Sigmund Freud regarded anxiety as the result of inner emotional conflict or external danger. While these factors often contribute to anxiety, scientists now know that anxiety disorders are biologically based illnesses. Indeed, the last 30 years have transformed our understanding of anxiety. Sophisticated brain imaging equipment has made it possible to trace the neural pathways of fear and anxiety. In the process, scientists have discovered certain abnormalities in the brains of anxiety sufferers. Research also suggests that genes may contribute to these abnormalities. While there are still more questions than answers, the growing knowledge about anxiety has already led to safer, more effective treatments.
Anxiety disorders, which include panic attacks and phobias, are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting about 19 million American adults and millions of children. For every individual with an anxiety disorder, many more are affected by it, including spouses, children, other relatives, friends, and employers.
On the other hand, never before have there been so many therapies to help control anxiety and preserve the relationships that can be undone by it. Medications can, in many cases, reduce or eliminate anxiety symptoms. Several types of therapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy, also help control anxiety by teaching people to adopt more positive thought and behavior patterns. Some medications now being developed may even help prevent anxiety disorders in people who are genetically predisposed to them.
So this week…be anxious for noting…help is at hand!
New American Standard Bible (NASB) 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Hey passengers, I thought the quote above was appropriate for today’s post…After your ride today I think you’ll feel the same.
Well you know how we do it here on the train, like wine with a meal…MUSIC with the post. KICK IT!
You know, I was thinking as I mused over this post, my (our) mind is a funny thing. On the one hand, it’s awesome. But on the other, it can pulverizeus more quickly and ruthlessly than anything else.
Our mind is inherently scared. That’s its job, to be cautious; to keep us alive, to have us cross roads safely, and not get eaten by a lion. But left unchecked, it can become paralyzed with fear and meaner than a cornered crocodile.
And it’s incredibly bossy.
The tendency of the mind to want to control is so strong and so habitual that we often don’t realize the myriad of times it tries to push our inner wisdom and natural sense of ease and love aside.
The bad news is there is no book or course that will change the nature of our mind; the good news—we don’t have to. The problem isn’t our mind, but how we use it.
We feel anxious, fearful, sad, or resentful when we give our mind too much power, when we follow all of its dopey ideas against our better judgment.
Here’s how I spot when my mind is trying to take over. Hope it helps you as well.
1. When you ignore your natural inclination.
Your mind is smart. Not wise smart, but computer smart. Your mind isn’t into all that woolly intuition jazz. It wants facts. It likes making calculations. Running the odds. Say you have a thought to call a friend you haven’t thought of in years. But then your mind says, “Don’t be silly. She’s probably not home. She won’t remember me.”
So you don’t call.
But have you ever followed one of those inclinations and then looked back and seen, wow, look at everything that happened after? And what about decisions like what to do with your life? The logical way is listen to experts or copy what works for other people. Your mind loves this.
This is why we ignore the little voice that says, “You should be a writer,” and choose instead to study statistics, because there are plenty of jobs for statisticians. Or we train to be a dancer because we’re “good at that. ”Except you aren’t “other people.” And experts aren’t as expert about you as you are. And just because you’re “good at something” doesn’t mean it’s what you want to do.
2. When you want to say “no” but you end up saying “yes.”
Do you have trouble saying “no”?
I used to. I didn’t even see it as a serious option until I hit my late forties. It was messy. I thought there were rules more important than my deep desire not to do something. Rules like be a good friend, be a good employee, go to lots of parties I didn’t want to go. Kiss the right butt, shake the right hands and laugh at jokes that didn’t come close to being funny.
This is, of course, a total mind thing. Your mind wants to be liked and it thinks everything is important. Your mind doesn’t realize that saying “no” isn’t a big deal, or even a medium deal. Or that your intuition is where wisdom lies. Not only is it your right to do as you genuinely desire, but it benefits everyone when you do. Awhile back I read ”An Angel at My Table”, based on the autobiography of Janet Frame, one of New Zealand’s favorite authors. Janet spent eight years in a psychiatric hospital, had two hundred electroshock treatments, and narrowly escaped a lobotomy only to learn years later that she wasn’t unwell; she just didn’t like being very social, and if she did what she felt like she was fine.
3. When you constantly text or check your phone or email, or Facebook status.
I love the Internet and email and reading comments on my blog. Just love it. What an awesome world we live in. But often I feel off balance because of it. Or rather, because of how I use it. And it’s not like I don’t know why I get so hooked on it. I do. I’m looking for approval.
The need for approval goes deep. Not only is it a natural trait of the mind, it’s entrenched by our schooling system. But it’s dangerous. It keeps you distracted from the present moment and trains you to care when people disapprove. Which they will. The modern hyper-connected world is addictive. To the mind it’s like candy.
So what’s the answer? Give it all up?
Personally, heck no. But setting limits and removing temptation keeps things in check.
4. When you think, “It’s all very well for them.”
Have you ever heard an inspirational story and thought, “It’s all very well for him, he came from a rowing family. It’s easy for him to row the Northwest Passage.” You see it all the time and it’s a classic case of your mind resisting change, worried you’ll want to make some leap of your own. Take Elizabeth Gilbert and her book, Eat, Pray, Love.
It wasn’t a story about traveling around the world. Not really. It was about survival and courage and how one woman used the resources she had to save herself.
Thinking, as a few did, that it’s all very well for her she could afford to travel around the world is missing the point.
We all have the ability to get up off our metaphorical bathroom floor. And we all have our own unique set of resources to help us. When your mind is quickly dismissive and judgmental, it’s trying to stop you from seeing this.
5. When you think repetitive, worrying thoughts.
Getting OCD about washing your hands, turning off the stove, or locking the door before you leave is your safety-officer mind working overtime. While the worry feels real and overwhelming, there’s no reality to it. Don’t be pushed around by your mind. Thank your mind but tell it you’ll take it from here. Allow one double-check or hand wash. Now leave. The trick is ignoring the unpleasant thoughts while knowing a bunch of more pleasant ones will be along shortly.
6. When you try and control someone else.
Have you ever thought you knew better than someone else and tried to get them to do things your way? Just like dozens of times a day, right? Your mind is certain you have to intervene. You don’t. Your mind thinks it knows best. It doesn’t. Trying to control other people, in small and big matters, is not only annoying and disrespectful; it stops the flow of life. You miss out. I don’t know how many times I’ve experienced a profound and unexpected pleasure after I’ve ignored the urge to butt in.
7. When you feel inadequate for being “too negative.”
We’re inundated with messages telling us we should be grateful and positive and the like. They’re well meaning, but ultimately unhelpful. Because here’s the catch. Your mind regards these ideas as rules and is critical when you fail, as you invariably will. Because seriously, who’s positive or grateful all the time? A few years ago I had to tell a friend she was a negative person.
Her response: “Okay, so how do I change that.”
“You don’t,” I said, “You probably won’t always be this way. It’s just how you are right now.” Whenever you feel inadequate, this is your mind pushing you to “follow the rules.” It’s well intentioned, but misguided. Accepting how you are, no matter how you are, is the most loving and genuinely positive thing you can do. And yes, this applies to when you’re being controlling. It’s your mind’s nature to seek control. It’s neither a good or bad thing, it just is. Sometimes you’ll succumb, other times you won’t. And it’s all perfectly okay…
I refuse to call myself an African American. He gave his life, so that I could vote….in America, eat at lunch counters…in America, walk into the front door of Malls…in America, sit anywhere there is an open seat in the public transit system…in America. I am a Christian, black man born …in America and most of all, I call myself, what I am, an American! Thank you Dr. King!
Kick it! The Mood…The Music…
Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the son of Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. Although Dr. King’s name was mistakenly recorded as “Michael King” on his birth certificate, this was not discovered until 1934, when his father applied for a passport. He had an older sister, Willie Christine (September 11, 1927) and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel (July 30, 1930 â€“ July 1, 1969). King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind. He entered Morehouse College at age fifteen, skipping his ninth and twelfth high school grades without formally graduating. In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in sociology, and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, and graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) degree in 1951. In September 1951, King began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) on June 5, 1955 (but see the Plagiarism section for controversy regarding this degree).
In 1953, at age 24, King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to comply with the Jim Crow laws that required her to give up her seat to a white man. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, urged and planned by E. D. Nixon (head of the Montgomery NAACP chapter and a member of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters) and led by King, soon followed. (In March 1955, a 15 year old school girl, Claudette Colvin, suffered the same fate, but King did not become involved.) The boycott lasted for 381 days, the situation becoming so tense that King’s house was bombed. King was arrested during this campaign, which ended with a United States Supreme Court decision outlawing racial segregation on all public transport.
King was instrumental in the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, a group created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct non-violent protests in the service of civil rights reform. King continued to dominate the organization. King was an adherent of the philosophies of nonviolent civil disobedience as described in Henry David Thoreau’s essay of the same name, and used successfully in India by Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi. King applied this philosophy to the protests organized by the SCLC. In 1959, he wrote The Measure of A Man, from which the piece What is Man?, an attempt to sketch the optimal political, social, and economic structure of society, is derived.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s success with non-violent activism, he visited the Gandhi family in India in 1959, with assistance from the Quaker group the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The trip to India affected King in a profound way, deepening his understanding of nonviolent resistance and his commitment to Americaâ€™s struggle for civil rights. In a radio address made during his final evening in India, King reflected, â€œSince being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation.â€
The FBI began wiretapping King in 1961, fearing that Communists were trying to infiltrate the Civil Rights Movement, but when no such evidence emerged, the bureau used the incidental details caught on tape over six years in attempts to force King out of the preeminent leadership position.
King correctly recognized that organized, nonviolent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow laws would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights. Journalistic accounts and televised footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights workers and marchers, produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion that made the Civil Rights Movement the single most important issue in American politics in the early 1960s.
King organized and led marches for blacks’ right to vote, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into United States law with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
King and the SCLC applied the principles of nonviolent protest with great success by strategically choosing the method of protest and the places in which protests were carried out in often dramatic stand-offs with segregationist authorities. Sometimes these confrontations turned violent. King and the SCLC were instrumental in the unsuccessful Albany Movement in Albany, Georgia, in 1961 and 1962, where divisions within the black community and the canny, low-key response by local government defeated efforts; in the Birmingham protests in the summer of 1963; and in the protest in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1964. King and the SCLC joined forces with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Selma, Alabama, in December 1964, where SNCC had been working on voter registration for several months.
King, representing SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called “Big Six” civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The other leaders and organizations comprising the Big Six were: Roy Wilkins, NAACP; Whitney Young, Jr., Urban League; A. Philip Randolph, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; John Lewis, SNCC; and James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The primary logistical and strategic organizer was King’s colleague Bayard Rustin. For King, this role was another which courted controversy, since he was one of the key figures who acceded to the wishes of President John F. Kennedy in changing the focus of the march. Kennedy initially opposed the march outright, because he was concerned it would negatively impact the drive for passage of civil rights legislation, but the organizers were firm that the march would proceed.
In late March 1968, King went to Memphis, Tennessee in support of the black sanitary public works employees, represented by AFSCME Local 1733, who had been on strike since March 12 for higher wages and better treatment. (For example, African American workers, unlike white workers, were not paid when sent home because of inclement weather.)
On April 3, King returned to Memphis and addressed a rally, delivering his “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” address at Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ, Inc. – World Headquarters). King’s flight to Memphis had been delayed by a bomb threat against his plane. In the close of the last speech of his career, in reference to the bomb threat, King said the following:
â€œ And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. â€
King was booked in room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, owned by Walter Bailey, in Memphis. Reverend Ralph Abernathy, King’s close friend and colleague who was present at the assassination, swore under oath to the HSCA that King and his entourage stayed at room 306 at the Lorraine Motel so often it was known as the ‘King-Abernathy suite.’ While standing on the motel’s 2nd floor balcony, King was shot at 6:01 p.m. April 4, 1968. The bullet entered through his right cheek smashing his jaw and then traveling down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder. According to biographer Taylor Branch, King’s last words on the balcony were to musician Ben Branch (no relation to Taylor Branch) who was scheduled to perform that night at an event King was attending: “Ben, make sure you play Take My Hand, Precious Lord in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.” Friends inside the motel room heard the shots and ran to the balcony to find King on the ground. Local Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, whose house King was on his way to, remembers that upon seeing King go down he ran into a hotel room to call an ambulance. Nobody was on the switchboard, so Kyles ran back out and yelled to the police to get one on their radios. It was later revealed that the hotel switchboard operator, upon seeing King shot, had had a fatal heart attack and could not operate the phones. King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m. The assassination led to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 60 cities.
Five days later, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a national day of mourning for the lost civil rights leader. A crowd of 300,000 attended his funeral that same day. Vice-President Hubert Humphrey attended on behalf of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was holding a meeting on the Vietnam War at Camp David. (There were fears that Johnson might be hit with protests and abuses over the war if he attended.) At his widow’s request, King eulogized himself: his last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a recording of his famous ‘Drum Major’ sermon, given on February 4, 1968, was played at the funeral. In that sermon he makes a request that at his funeral no mention of his awards and honors be made, but that it be said that he tried to “feed the hungry”, “clothe the naked”, “be right on the [Vietnam] war question”, and “love and serve humanity”. Per King’s request, his good friend Mahalia Jackson sang his favorite hymn, “Take My hand, Precious Lord” at his funeral.
All ABOARD!!! Well passengers we started back in 2006…this ride on the LifeTrain. And now we roll out of the station and continue down these tracks (life) for the first time in 2014…sniff…sniff…pass the tissue…LOL..!
I was going to write a long post about how I have been reflecting, thinking about all the good and not so good moments that happened in 2013. Good things like my new job, new friends, new love…and while I didn’t lose a bunch of weight…I didn’t gain a lot…MORE LOL! Bad things like still not publishing my book, my mother passing away… you get the picture. But then it hit me. We all have ups and downs.It is part of the train ride called life. And while those downs hurt, like really really hurt, they make the ups that much sweeter. So with that in mind, I will not burden you with a long recap of my life… for I know to well how you have your own ups and downs and do not need to be bothered with mine. Instead, I will tell you what my wishes for 2014 are for us all.
*I wish that you have more ups than downs in the new year.
*I wish that even when you are smack dab as low as you can get in the middle of the down times (cause like it or not, you will have some) I wish that you are able to get through it by grasping on to HOPE. For even when it is so hard to see it because your eyes are cloudy with tears, it is there!
*And lastly, I wish that you have less fear and more faith. Faith in the future, in yourself, in your decisions and most of all… your fellow passengers who ride with us each day here on the LifeTrain.
Happy New Year my friends. Thanks for joining me on my 2013 train ride. There is a seat next to me available for 2014… buckle up its bound to get bumpy, but just think of the great views we will have as we look out the sides of the Train in 2014…
ALL ABOARD! THE LifeTrain!
And here’s hoping 2014 sings this song in your life all year. So when the bumps come…fire this song up!