Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade
The Millwood High School pep squad warms up. (Doug Hill)

I‘m old enough to remember segregation. My family lived in Sedalia, Missouri, in the early 1960s. It was well after Brown v. Board of Education, but Horace Mann Elementary School, which I attended, was all-white in a town with a large African-American population.

Segregation wasn’t just limited to the schools. Housing, public swimming pools and movie theaters were segregated, as well. Even a child could recognize this was wrong.

It wasn’t until age 19, when I went to work for a multi-national corporation in Kansas City, Missouri, that I had any significant contact with African-American folks. I learned I had an affinity for their rich culture, and that has only grown deeper with time.

Later, I would serve on the board of directors of Oklahoma City’s Opportunities Industrialization Center and become a member of the Urban League and the NAACP. Every year, I attend OKC’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade as a reminder of the American hero’s contribution to making us a better and more inclusive nation.