Are We There Yet?

Don't Be Silent in the Face of InjusticeIn these remaining few more days of Black History Month and beyond, let us not forget the message of unity, love, and justice of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King. Dr. King was a servant leader, fully aware of the injustices, and yet was able to work towards justice in a spirit of love. He was truly a voice of conscience that rings beyond the grave. By his example I learned that while I must be aware of the goings on in the world, at the same time not let it steal the joy in the moment. Ignorance is not bliss and neither is anger or hate. We must be aware; be sensitive; speak out against injustice; be loving even to our enemies, be encouraging to those who are grieving or being persecuted, and most importantly, we must DO what WE can to change the world.

This week a Facebook post really got to me.  It was of a young African-American being harassed, beaten, restrained, and kicked.  He kept screaming, “Why are yall doing this to me?” He was being treated like an animal. Evidently he’d stepped off a bus and was immediately accosted by two police.  I was so visibly moved that I wrote the following FB post.

This made me cry for two reasons!!!! 1) Because this is still happening. 2) Because it’s a reminder of when one on my son’s on his Spring break from college had something similarly humiliating done to him! Handcuffed, made to get on the ground, cops being verbally abusive, and yes he was scared to death. Yes! And he was innocent, and NO he didn’t have his pants hanging, and NO he didn’t have on a hoodie, and NO, he doesn’t drink or smoke AND IT DIDNT MATTER! It’s hard for wounds to heal when the scab keeps getting ripped off! The only difference is he kept quiet. BUT, some caged birds have to scream though!!! If you scream though, it makes things worse, as you see in the video links below.

Why was this man being harassed for just stepping off of  a bus? Thankfully someone recorded it. Two other police come to the scene and one ends up putting his foot on the guys face while he’s on the ground and is kicking him in the face. And it appears like one is almost sitting on the guy’s head. The poor young man is screaming, “Why are you doing this to me?,” but to no avail. Bystanders are watching and walking by, but feel helpless to help.  This is the police; what can they do? Are we there yet? Watch the Video and You decide!!!!!! The language is foul, but so is the indignity put upon this young man.  Then I learn that this is routine for NYC if you are Black or Latino. They missed one young man who videoed it, but not this one, eight cops just arrest him for videoing the atrocityy.  Are we in a police state? Where are our freedoms?  What about due process, human rights, and human respect?

An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.”

“We will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

It looked like something out of Dr. King’s era. I can only wonder if we are breeding an endless cycle of hatred. What came first the chicken or egg? I’m thinking about those kids being harassed day after day and wondering if they are going to grow up loving or hating whites. In some places those chickens will one day come home to roost if they ever get in a position to return the hate that has built up in them from so many years of being powerless. In other cases led by the example of numerous people of every color disgusted by the old guard and preaching and demonstrating love and peace, (like many Bahai’s and others I know), the system will slowly but surely be changed for the better. We are one human race and there is just one planet and one people. I have to keep in mind always that while there are many horrific examples of humans at their worst, but I’m happy to say, I do see so many examples of humans at their best too!  Thank you Dr. King for showing us how to love our enemies, to stand up for justice, and to not remain silent, yet we be guilty too.

Another message that matters from Barbara Talley

Dr. Martin Luther King on Hope

Dr. King’s life was dedicated to uplifting his fellow-man, the downtrodden, the poor, the hopeless, and the forgotten.  In Trumpet of Conscience, Dr. King reflected on hope,If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose the courage to be, the quality that helps you to go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.”

This year the economic situation is taking center stage.  Young people fresh out of college are trying to find jobs and mature adults laid off from their once secure jobs are having trouble finding (any) job and especially ones commensurate with their former income.  Two years ago this time our minds were on the catastrophic devastation in  Haiti.  (Note: Please don’t forget about them; they still need our help!) Last year it is on the senseless Arizona killings and the worsening respect for our public officials and for life itself.  This coupled with massive job layoffs, increasing numbers of people facing life altering health challenges, and those with jobs facing furloughs or no pay raises makes the need to pull together and help each other even more critical.  People are hurting.  United we stand and divided we fall.  We cannot let our fellow brothers and sisters lose hope and we can’t lose hope either.

Keep Hope Alive

We’ve got to do what we can to “keep hope alive.”  Not only for those in our families that are facing challenges, but also for the jobless, homeless, and hopeless people everywhere.  Reflect on the time in which Dr. King lived and how he responded to difficulties.  In spite of everything he endured, the hoses and attack dogs, his home bombed, being spit on, jailed, ridiculed, and threatened with death, he still had hope and faith.   You may not think that you have enough to share, but what the world needs now is love, encouragement, hope, and perhaps a big smile.  Now I know those things won’t pay the bills,  but they can perhaps lift someone’s spirit and help them get through that day. You never know when you might need a little encouragement.  Perhaps a smile might be just what you need to make it through a day.  Dr. King never gave up on his dream and fought for it until his dying breath.  So, don’t give up on your dream either and when you feel like giving up, remember Martin.

I’m Barbara Talley, The Poet who speaks and inspires.   To find more about me, check out What does Barbara do? or visit  my website.

What do you know about Martin?

Original Poem, (c) All Rights Reserved

What do you know about Martin?

There was so much more to him than his dream

He spent his life waking up the consciousness of both black and white people

And those descendants from both sides who were stuck in-between

What do you know about Martin?

Did you know how courageous he was, how he stood firm and did not run

In the face of dogs, police, and angry mobs, he practiced what he preached

For he believed that love was more powerful than a hateful heart and a smoking gun

What do you know about Martin?

Of course you probably knew he was a master of speech and oration

He had degrees from Morehouse, Boston University, and Crozier Seminary College

And in 1955, he received a PHD, to show how much he valued education

What do you know about Martin?

What has his legacy taught or inspired you to do?

Are you one of the proud or one of those wondering, what is the big deal?

Are you aware of how his mere living has changed life so dramatically for you?

What do you know about Martin?

Were you aware that he was only 26 when elected first president of the MIA

It was the Montgomery Improvement Association that helped organize the busing boycott

That plucked both he and Rosa Parks from obscurity and sent them both on their fateful way

What do you know about Martin?

Did you know that it was his ability to lead and inspire that gained him a prominent role

In December 1956 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Alabama’s bus segregation laws

But it was Martin who helped motivate the people of Montgomery to keep on walking for a full year prior to that in the rain, sleet, and the cold

What did you learn from Martin?

How much or how little does it take to provoke you?

Does it take something that is life threatening to make you respond with violence?

Or will you go off if someone looks at you wrong or steps on your shoe?

It was during this ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’ in 1963

That Martin Luther King gave his famous, I have a dream speech

And it is these prophetic words that even 40 years later we reflect back on

For although many have sacrificed their lives, this dream is still beyond our reach

Black and White, Jews, and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics

All are still fighting each other, still fighting to be equal and free

We’ve figured out the part of holding hands and singing the song

But there is still too much injustice, hatred, and disunity

So when you echo the dream of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr

What do you really know about this man and his contributions?

How many strides that he fought for are we in danger of losing?

How many new battles have we stood up for and won?

Martin Luther King put everything on the line for freedom

Even when bombs where thrown into his home with his young baby and new wife

He said if we won’t stand for something we would die for anything

And that is how this great man lived his entire life

And then one day he talked of seeing the mountaintop

And told his brethren he would have to go alone

And at the age of 39, in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated

And God called his faithful and weary servant home

So what do you know about Martin

Do you know all that he did for you?

He said we all can be leaders, because we all can serve

So what kind of service can we expect now from you?

(c) 2007-2010, Barbara S. Talley. ‘What Do You Know About Martin’ is from the upcoming book, Just The Right Words: Special Occasion Poetry, to be Released in 2010.   Barbara is a keynote speaker, workshop leader, and author of six books.   Do not reproduce without express written permission from the author.  To contact Barbara, phone 301.428-4831 or

5th of My Fave Five Dr. King Quotes: On Unity


And last, but not least, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about unity.  In spite of all the “unearned suffering” he endured, nothing he did was about revenge, hatred, or getting even.  He always took the high road.  He just continually worked to make the world a better place for his children.   Inspired and even driven by the non-violent tenets of Gandhi, he lived the proverbial teaching, “Turn the other cheek.”   We celebrate his life because he gave us hope.  He gave us a role model who endured monumental suffering and still stood tall.  He was truly “his brothers’ keeper.

Dr. King Dreamed of Unity

I cannot possibly conclude a reflection on the impact of Dr. King’s life without mentioning his most famous speech, ‘I have a Dream.’  Watching his prophetic dream come more and more into focus underscores the importance of vision and that we should all have a dream we can believe in.  To me, his dream was primarily about unity.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

One Day We Will Not Be Judged By the Color Our Skins

I believe that nothing can begin to bring about unity and cooperation better than the genuine acknowledgement that we are all created equal.   There is no superior race; just as there is no inferior race.  There is only one human race and science and religion has proven it.  Dr. King dreamed that one day we would, sit together at the table of brotherhood, and that his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”   Our hatred, fear, selfishness and ignorance continues to keep us at odds with each other.  We’ve got to remember that unity sets us all free.

The Historical Unity Between Blacks and Whites

I have a Black History Month presentation that I offer entitled, “The Historical Unity between Blacks and Whites.”  In this presentation I focus on the wonderful and often unacknowledged contributions of African Americans.  Black history is about black and white history.  It is impossible to fully tell our story without telling his story.   I share the true history, both good and bad.  But, I choose to also acknowledge the positive contributions of the whites.  This strategy leaves both Blacks and Whites feeling more unified, grateful and proud of their past unity, instead of reminders of victimization, anger, hatred, and shame.  This climate of mutual respect can go a long way to building bridges of understanding, respect, and appreciation.

Let’s Join Together in Our Common Struggle

The words of his wife, Coretta Scott King reinforce his desire for unity of all people.

  The civil rights movement, which Martin led, gave fresh emphasis to the timelessness of our ideals and inspired countless millions around the world.  With Martin’s holiday, we celebrate those heroes and heroines, not only blacks, but of all races and religions, who struggled, suffered, persevered, and helped to change our Nation for the better…  Martin called upon peoples of every nation to join together in a common struggle against the enemies of humanity: Tyranny, poverty, racism, disease, and war.  The national holiday is a time for personal re-commitment to do something about these evils.”

Barbara Talley is a keynote speaker, author, poet, and trainer who can be reached at  Still looking for a keynote speaker for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, or Administrative Professional Day, phone Barbara at 301-428-4831.

4th of My Fave Five Dr. King Quotes: On Service

Service (Grace and Love)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday has become synonymous with a ‘Day of Service.’  We are encouraged to not have a day off, but a day on.  It’s hard to feel hopeless when you have the right perspective and are helping other people.  That brings me to my third favorite quote of Dr. King, Service.

Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

One of the most important services we can offer is to teach, protect, and guide the innocent children and youth.  In the early 90’s, I volunteered with the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission working to work on youth leadership programs.  One year we took the youth to Little Rock, Arkansas to visit Central High School and to teach them, among other things, about the courage of the Little Rock Nine.

What Has History Taught Us?

Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. King, was Chairperson of the Commission at that time and the thing I remember most about her is that she loved children and dedicated a great deal of her time to encouraging them.  Their son, Dexter Scott King, when reflecting on the importance of history and youth wrote:

To most young people history is just that, with no relevance to the present or future.  With our new technologies and new-found freedoms, what can we learn from a civil rights movement that took place before this generation was born?  If you cannot understand and respect the lessons which our ancestors learned through hard struggle, then we are condemned to relive those same struggles over and over again.  If history has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that.”

February will be here before you know it and with it come Black History Month.  Please take advantage of the opportunities and programs organized to help us remember the lessons and leaders of the past who have contributed so much to our current freedoms, successes, and opportunities.  Click to read my 5th favorite Dr. Martin Luther King quote on Unity

Barbara Talley is a keynote speaker, author, poet, and trainer who can be reached at  Still looking for a keynote speaker for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, or Administrative Professional Day, phone Barbara at 301-428-4831.