I knew my life would never be the same, our nation had changed. And I instinctively knew this event meant that I was probably not going on my senior class trip. We were scheduled to leave the next week for Washington, DC and New York.
We stayed glued to the television over the next few days, watching as our nation came unglued over Dr. King's assassination. Cousins living in Milwaukee left to avoid the unrest, others wished they could.
I did finally go on that (postponed) class trip after a huge strung out argument with the whole family. Against orders from my mother, other family members, and against an agreement signed with the school to not stray from the trip itinerary, I spent every free moment observing the burned out neighborhoods that resulted from the riots following Dr. King's death.
I remember that first glimpse of blocks of burned out homes and businesses. I remember asking the black man sitting next to me on the bus, "Why?" I remember what he told me. I remember the lack of anger in his voice. I was changed in that moment. I have never been the same.
"There comes a time when silence is betrayal." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.