Yesterday marked Martin Luther King Day, trending on X as #MLKDay2024. Returning home from work, I found a beautiful message from a lovely American friend of mine sharing a Youtube montage her son had made to commemorate the day. Her son writes music for computer games, but inspired by the day, he used his take on U2’s MLK, played on a Talk Box, to tell the story of Echol Cole and Robert Walker, two black sanitation workers who could only sit in the back of their refuse truck to hide from a rainstorm on their route. Tragedy struck when the crushing mechanism suddenly sprang into action.
Youtube credit: @XenoKeyz
Both men were killed, and their needless loss, symbolic of the miserable conditions black men endured while working to keep a city clean that only the white population could enjoy – these were the days of segregation – prompted the I AM A MAN strike which ultimately led to Martin Luther King delivering his famous ‘Mountaintop’ speech in their support.
What struck me about this very moving tribute, is the extraordinary bravery that people demonstrated and the heavy sacrifices they made, in order to fight for what was right. There are many times in today’s world where it often feels as though we are fighting a losing battle for the rights of people to be treated equally, to be able to live free of hatred and discrimination for being who they are. An endless, exhausting battle against the culture wars and capitalist politics which seek to profit from hatred and division. This video, Martin Luther King Jr, the lives of Echol Cole and Robert Walker, and the movement that their tragic deaths inspired, serve as timely reminders that we can never stop, never just settle for what is, and that what we may be sacrificing now is nothing to what others have sacrificed before us so that we could enjoy freedom and equality the likes of which they could only dream about.
There is still so much to do. So, remember these people who sacrificed so much for you and I, no matter our colour or creed. Hate destroys the fabric of society, hate crimes are crimes against ALL of us as society’s members. We ALL benefit from the fight to eradicate hatred.