Group March for Dignity of Individual

I was sitting at Avo's warming my hands around a mocha latte when Seymour Sharpe sat down. "Hey Mike, you making any plans for the three-day weekend celebrating Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday?

I shrugged. "Hadn't really thought about it. Maybe we'll go to a playground, hit a couple of sales at the mall."

He looked aghast. "You're just gonna treat it like another gimme day for government employees?"

"Well I didn't vote for the holiday. I was actually against it until they switched it with an already existing day off. People even called me a racist because I wasn't willing to spend millions of dollars to celebrate another birthday."

"Oh you poor dear," he said sarcastically. "That must have been as traumatic as the march to Selma. Don't you think he should be honored for leading the fight against discrimination?"

"Are you for quotas?" I asked just as sarcastically. "Or for people HAVING to be identified by race or sex or ethnicity on every single form we ever fill out?"

"No, but that's just typical government overkill. I believe in the intrinsic dignity of each individual human being."

"Well if you don't believe in quotas, then you're a racist." I had him now.

"Actually, it's just the opposite. Anyone who thinks quotas solves problems is saying any Black or Native American or whatever is just as good as any other one and should be hired. That's identical to a bigot who thinks any Black or Native American or whatever is just as bad or lazy or whatever as any other one. Neither perception is accurate. Individuals are different from groups."

I shrugged, "Judges and laws say quotas right past wrongs."

"Yes, but you can't blame Martin Luther King for reverse discrimination. He was a man of the cloth trying to ensure that every American has the same basic rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness or at least an opportunity for a decent living. The main problem is we can't legislate good will or forgiveness or brotherly love. But you can preach it like Martin Luther King, or live it, or protest hatred the way the civil rights marchers did."

"Well I ain't no preacher and there's not much discrimination to protest here in Fort Collins. I mean, there's hardly any one to discriminate against and I don't hang out in the streets or bars where the fights happen."

"Discrimination is everywhere even if YOU don't see the stares some people get, the extra id cards requested when writing a check, the way people stand farther away from you in line."

"Well I don't do that to anyone and there's not much I can do about those who do."

"You can make a statement." I looked up from my coffee. "They're recreating the 1963 march on Washington, D.C. It will begin at 1:00 PM at the CSU Oval on Monday and will end at Old Town by 3:00 PM."

I shrugged. "A reenactment of a 35-year-old march in a white-bread town like ours isn't much of a statement."

Seymour leaned forward. "It could be if enough people join. What if fifty or ninety thousand people showed up, each making a personal statement about what is important in our community? Then anybody who harbors hatred would know he'd better hide it from his neighbors. Isn't that a lot more important than shopping?"

"Depends on the sales."

He shook his head sorrowfully. "The march is only two hours. A sale is all day, probably all weekend. At least think about it."

He walked out, leaving me alone with my thoughts.