“Sometimes a missed opportunity can make a deeper impact on the soul than an opportunity that’s been taken”. In the early 60’s while I was trying to become a Rock and Roll Star, Martin Luther King, Jr. was going to jail on a regular basis for leading peaceful Civil Rights demonstrations in the deep south against segregation.

I’ve never admitted it before, but I was one of those “Negroes” who thought that King’s actions would hurt those of us who were trying to assimilate into a “White Society”. I remember on one of his trips to the north, to raise money for the movement, he came to Thessalonia Baptist Church in the Bronx, where I was a member.

I was 19, and still living at home with my Mother and Grandmother, and “Gooma” insisted that I go to a special Sunday afernoon service where Dr. King was speaking. When I said, “What do I want to see that troublemaker for?”

Gooma snapped back, “Jesus was a troublemaker!…but wouldn’t you have liked to have seen him if you had the chance?” There was nothing I could say…so I agreed to go as long as I could leave before he spoke, so I could make it down to Greenwich Village to meet my Beatnik friends at the Cafe Figaro. Starting that afternoon, when my downtown pals couldn’t stop talking about Rev. King and how I missed a chance to not only hear him speak, but to possibly meet him, I started to look at him…and myself differently.

As the months passed, I learned more about the great man and started to develop a social conscience. Through the years I’ve seen his influence not only affect our people, but all people…all over the world! Even though I didn’t actually meet him, I’m grateful to have seen him and breathed the same air that he did…if only for a few moments!”

January 15, has always been a special day since it’s Gooma’s birthday as well as Martin Luther Kings. God bless You doctor King and thank you Gooma, without each of you I would’ve become a lesser person than I am today!

From my book,  “I Did It For A Song” Copyright 2012 by Artie Wayne available for $9.99 through paypal which you may send directly to me at