February is Black History month. But the struggle for equality that is the legacy of African Americans is also the legacy of all men and women who have ever been or have their humanity oppressed. For all people who have struggled for their freedom as an inalienable right.
In every century there are men who eloquently express that right and whose message is universal. It crosses boundaries of country, color and religion and speaks to the dreams and aspiration of all who hope for a just and better life. Dr. Martin Luther King was such a man, and on that memorable day in Washington, D.C. when he spoke of a dream he had for America, he also held up a mirror to the conscience of all humanity. His words will resonate wherever there is inequality and oppression.
This poem that follows was written as a tribute to great soul who left us all too soon!
For M. L. K.
Once they were Kings and Queens
In the dream that was Africa.
A mother who dreamed of braiding her daughter's hair
preparing her beauty for a joyous marriage to come.
A father who dreamed of sons hunting the Wildebeest
on the plains of the Serengeti, the spear's arc in its fatal flight.
A husband who dreamed of love songs under a full moon,
the home fire beckoning him to her tender breasts.
A woman who dreamed of her man's strengthened loins,
their union and the children she would someday bear.
And they awoke from that dream into a
shackled, deep in the putrid bowels of slave ships.
Sold like so much cattle to the plantations of the South,
the Master's whip scarred and crushed them into slavery.
This is how inhumanity justifies its cruelty, manifests
a noxious stink in the cesspool of our shameful history.
Then there was another King in another time
who in recent memory also had a dream.
For mothers who would someday see their daughters
grow up to be doctors and deans of great
For fathers who would see their sons realize a singular vision
in a future of presidents and statesmen in high offices.
For husbands who would fearlessly embrace their wives,
far from hunger and shame, in the shelter of their homes.
For women who loved deep and lusted for their men,
and birthed healthy children into a bright free world.
Once they were Kings and Queens,
In the dream that was America.
Dr. Mehernosh Khan is a Pittsfield-based physician and occasional Eagle contributor.