A Young Bride’s Look at MLK

January 16, 2022
Author:
Abby Lentz

Because I was living in Washington, DC in April of 1968, I have a deep connection to the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. As new bride of just 19, I found myself in the early throes of moving from DC to Toledo, Ohio where my husband of three months was already working. It might be hard to believe in these times where it's impossible to escape the news, but 54 years ago with no access to any media, I walked to work as usual on that April day, unaware of Dr. King's death. Inside the office, as always, Muzak was playing in the background. Our wake-up call only came when the elderly Black postman plopped into a chair to gather himself. “Those young bucks out there are tearing down the city.”

We turned on the radio to hear the news that, in fact, DC was under siege as rioting swept the city. Knowing I was alone, my boss told me to go to my parents’ home, not understanding the strain on the bus service during this emergency.

I stopped briefly at my apartment to pick up a few things and call my mom, so she would know I was safely on my way. Living downtown, I walked to the central Greyhound station, looking over my shoulder again and again, all while the sound of shouting and broken glass rang out. Shop windows were being broken — the looting had begun. Quickening my pace, I saw flashes of brilliant colors as garments flew out of the D J Kaufman display window down the block.

The station was in total chaos with people boarding buses even without tickets. Crammed over any safety limits, I found myself grateful just to be standing in the aisle as the bus made its way south to St. Mary’s County. Sirens filled the air followed by yelling inside the bus to point out fires along our route. A sense of relief washed over us as we left the burning city behind.

From the safety of my parents’ home many miles away, I watched the days unfold. I needed to return to my DC apartment the following week to pack for our move. We lived off Thomas Circle, just up from the White House. As I walked to our apartment, I was shocked to see armed soldiers on every corner. Martial law was enacted, forcing an early curfew. My moving would now become a two-day process of being packed up then picked up the next day.

I spent my last night sleeping on the floor. It was a sad farewell to the city that I loved as a child, growing up miles away in the small town of Tall Timbers. I continue to love DC as an adult with every visit. It was a sad farewell to the time of Dr. King and the interruption of his dream. Like everything around justice, it was only delayed.

Warrior II teaches us that strength can come from long holds, focus and vision. As I left DC to start a new life in a new city with a new husband, without knowing it I found my own inner Warrior II. In Warrior II we look forward, not backward, gathering our courage from our personal horizons. We gain strength, determination — and a sense of adventure that most people don’t assign to the word warrior. In fact, Warrior II is not combative or confrontational. (Or, perhaps only with your own demons.)

So, I hope you all will join me on this day in Warrior II. Hit your pause button and prepare yourself to meditate, reflect and settle into your own Warrior II even from the chair. To celebrate, I know I’ll be doing a little yoga — I hope you’ll do the same.

 

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