What Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Would Like About the Atlanta Falcons

I would much rather be spending my day off for the MLK holiday writing about the victorious Atlanta Falcons going to the Super Bowl. Yet, some guy in San Francisco gets the honor of praising his 49ers. We here in Atlanta have succumbed to another post season loss; our hopes of being in the Big Game now gone with the wind. It hurts. Yet, thankfully, football wasn’t the only momentous happening taking place in the Georgia Dome yesterday.

As the nation remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend, we do have hope. Not of football, but of his Dream. If we could have brought Dr. King back and taken him to only one place with the hopes of showing him the realization of his Dream, the best seat just might have been in the Georgia Dome for the NFL’s NFC Championship Game.  Today, almost 40 years after Dr. King gave one of the most noted speeches of the 20th century, there are aspects of the dream being exhibited—and the Falcons Game Day provides one of the best displays.

The Atlanta Falcons were the host team; Atlanta the host city. As the nation’s NFL football fans tuned into to watch the NFC Championship Game, something special was taking place among the 72,000 gathered in the south’s largest city. It wasn’t the record-breaking volume produced by enthusiastic fans. It wasn’t that this was the biggest home game the Falcons had ever played. It wasn’t a 17 point lead for the home team. No, it was something greater. The Black and White community of Atlanta rose up in unison to cheer the Black and Red. If Dr.King had been given a ticket to yesterday’s championship game I believe he would have enjoyed watching the fans as much as he would have  enjoyed watching the game.

The Georgia Dome on Game Day ushers in something special. You don’t see this accurate of a depiction of Atlanta’s racial diversity at Turner Field or Sanford Stadium. Nor, do you see it when the Hawks take the court at Phillips Arena. As for the Thrashers, when they were still in Atlanta, all 18 season ticket holders were Caucasian. There is just something special about the Falcons—at home—that helps Atlanta cross the racial divide more than any other place in the south.

In two weeks as Atlanta’s TVs will be tuned into the Falcon-less Super Bowl, most of our community will again segregate into our favorite cultural comfort zones.  Sports bars will only hint at racial diversity. Others of us will gather into homogeneous living rooms in front of mammoth HD screens. Yet, while we may once again bemoan how we have to watch another Super Bowl, indifferent to who wins, at least we can say the Falcons on Game Day are another one small step in the long journey of racial healing in our community.

Rise Up Atlanta! Our football and our unity in diversity are progressing.


You may also like The Day a Black Man Came to our Church and Four Stages Toward Embracing Diversity


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