Growing up in Washington, DC, I was very aware of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. The short time I was aware of him before he was assasinated, he gave me hope for the strife I sensed around me. I was hyper aware of the racial tension in my city.
When Dr. King was shot, it felt like I lost my childhood. Hope dissapated in me, I was not sure what to believe anymore. I couldn’t fathom why someone would want to kill him. And then I couldn’t envision how we would go forward without him.
His message of non-violence spoke to me in part because I was raised in a quaker home, where nonviolence, equality and peace were part of our core beliefs. I idolized Dr. King; his assasination brought me sadness and a measure of cynicism that was hard to shake. Horrible riots, and then more assasinations followed, as did the Watergate scandal. Certainly my youth was gone.
I began drawing cartoons at a very early age to make my mother smile. I continued to draw cartoons after Dr. King’s assasination and all during the turmoil that followed in the years to come. I have many times correlated the difficult years of the 60’s and 70’s to my becoming a political cartoonist. It was how I thought I might be able to help. It was how I knew to make others happy. It still is.
On this 50th anniversary of his assasination, emphatically remembering Dr. King and what he did is the best way to keep his vision alive.