Thursday, January 19, 2012

A day of celebration ... and then back to reality

My kids and I thoroughly enjoyed MLK day. We did not, however, enjoy waking up the next day to a publicly posted video of my son playing on the sidewalk, with a message falsely associating him with trespassing, vandalism and "looking for things to steal."

Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue
on the campus of UT Austin

Dad and son during the march

Martin Luther King Day here in Austin was wonderful. My two kids and I participated in the annual march and festival. The weather was great, the speakers did a fine job, and the music was wonderful. We started on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, marched to The Austin Capital and then finally marched to Huston-Tillotson University. There a full festival awaited. Along the way, my kids saw many of their friends - from school, church, violin, and even pre-school. I was thrilled to see several friends with places of honor in the festivities as they now hold elected office in Austin. It was also great to see Austin firefighters out enjoying the festivities, along with many other cherished friends whom I simply don't get to see very often. It was simply a wonderful day. The morning after MLK day, however, was not. ...
On the way to the Capital

The day after the festivities I awoke Tuesday to a frantic phone call. Monday afternoon, a friend's son and mine had been recorded by a neighbor's motion detecting surveillance camera, and a video had been publicly posted under the heading "trespassing, vandalism and theft." 

Greater Mt. Zion choir, band
and pastor at the steps of the Capital

The kids had seen the camera from the street and had been waving at it, smiling, jumping around, dancing. They video was of them on the city sidewalk. This neighbor lives less than one minute from my house, but instead of finding me and the other family to report wrong-doing (that had not occurred), he was comfortable putting up video of two kids (doing nothing wrong) and asking in the post who these kids were because they looked like they wanted to steal things. When I and the other father knocked on their door at 7am they called the police. I was happy to have the police involved, so that we could emerge crystal clear on some things. Needless to say the video is now down. And my understanding of race in America remains. 

Happy MLK day!

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