Today, April 4th, 2013, is the 45th anniversary Dr. Martin Luther King was assasinated. I remember the day clearly; I was 7 years old, in the 2nd grade. I had heard some talk about Dr. King, but had no idea who he was. One good thing I can say about Oakland, CA is that it is not a highly racist area - at least not that I could see. Since everyone referred to him as Dr. King, I thought he was a medical doctor.
Around 11am, our principal opened the classroom door and said, "Dr. King was shot." Our teacher yelled, "Everybody run home!" and threw open the door. There was no order; the playground was full of kids running. I was puzzled; why would anyone shoot a doctor, and what was running going to do?
I arrived home to an empty house. My brother, who was 10 years old and more aware, came in a few minutes later, yelling orders; "Lock the door! Pull down the shades! Don't go outside! Don't talk to anyone!"
Then he went outside, and I said, " I thought you said don't go out." He said, "That's OK, this is our back yard," so I went out too. Then some kids climed up the fence separating our backyards, and he started talking with them. I said, "I thought you said don't talk to anyone,", and he answered, "That's OK, they're black." I couldn't see what difference that made.
It wasn't until 2 years later, when I saw a TV documentary, that I knew anything about the Civil Rights Movement. Years later, in 1993, the first official Martin Luther King holiday began, and I celebrated by seeing the newly released movie, "Malcom X". My white roommates teased me about it, and I responded it was better than what they were doing in Reno; holding a boxing match in honor of the holiday! The advertisement ran, "On Martin Luther King's birthday, celebrate your rights - and your lefts." FOR REAL!!!