Every January for the first 18 years...

Even with no school to get up for, I could never sleep in past when NHPR would play this speech in its entirety because my mother would blast it through the house.

I'd sit safe on the hearth with a blanket and a stack of pancakes and when he was done speaking it was like waking up again. There were sleds and white snow waiting; the day was ours for the taking.

Remember, though, these days came from him. Without that dream realized, they weren't free.

The sun reflecting off the snow into our colorblind eyes didn't shine in St. Louis; Baltimore wasn't bathing in thoughts of Spring. It was bouncing off glass panels in the City, bleeding golden filth onto the marble of his stage. 

As our eyes adjust we see our promissory note, 26 years of free days lent to his dissatisfaction. How fitting now to borrow his faith for the determination not to default.

As our eyes adjust we dig deeper, decades late in disquieted perusal of Letters from a Birmingham Jail as jaws and minds waking. As our eyes adjust we're dipping toes in the work of the African Diaspora curious and cautious at times rejected.

As eyes learn to distinguish lines of voyeurism, condescension I stumble and shy. Let every year bring crackling recordings, blasting reminders that I owe him to try.


Thumbnail the cover of Devin Allen's upcoming A Beautiful Ghetto