In reply to the letter by Lon Thomas regarding his dim view of MLK Day.
Mr. Thomas, for starters I am not black, so please do not consider my comments as jaded due to my color, simply hear what I have to say and consider the reasons to recognize a truly unique individual who followed his heart and took a path less traveled in an effort to enlighten those of us who lack tolerance for people of different colors and/or cultures. Also consider that his path was difficult to say the least, yet he never looked back and he never gave up.
Mr. King was not a violent man, in fact, he spoke strongly against violence, and he united a segment of our society to improve their lot in life through all peaceful and legal means. If you will realize that he could well have promoted a different course for his people, then perhaps you may see the value in this man, and recognize the loss our nation suffered when he was assassinated.
To honor him with a national holiday, is in my mind, only a small tribute to his effort, and we should one and all appreciate where we really are compared to where we could be if not for the work Mr. King devoted his life to.
My family roots are in the deep south, Louisiana to be exact, and way back when, my family held slaves and conducted their business according to the customs of the day. This is a fact that I am not particularly proud of, and I feel more than a little shame when I think about the terrible conditions of slavery that were once perpetuated in America, however, thanks to the Civil War, this outrageous condition of one man owning another was abandoned, and America started on a new path toward acceptance of all human beings as equals.
This has been a long and arduous path, fraught with injustice, hardship, and unprecedented displays of hatred for the black man, but regardless of the hardships and the hatred, once the movement was started, it was not to be stopped, and men like Martin Luther King have helped us to grow as a nation by working hard to achieve the goals of that movement. He pointed out that all of us must decide whether or not we really believe in the freedoms we proclaim so loudly, and he asked each of us to walk with him on the path to equal rights for all citizens.
I believe that the Town of Payson should add MLK day to the holidays observed here, and in doing so, we can proudly say as a community that Payson supports the concepts of freedom and equality.
At the moment there are not many black people in Payson, and I am sure that you and those like you would like to keep it that way, but, the times they are a changing, and sooner or later Payson will have a significant black population, and unless the citizens of Payson are willing to make changes to recognize their culture and their heroes, we may one day find that our troubles created by not doing so are much greater than the $10,000 it costs for MLK Day.
So, get with it Mr. Thomas, join the rest of us in the 21st century and recognize what has been achieved by Mr. King, and show a little respect for a man who earned it.
Jim Estess, Pine