Roy had been elected class president that day by his classmates before the news broke that Roy had been murdered. Roy never knew that he had been elected. All that Roy would have known about that day was that it was the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was on his way to school to cast his vote for a friend for class president and to celebrate Dr. King’s life.

Every year around this time, I too remember Dr. King’s birthday. But for me, it is even more significant because I also remember Roy and celebrate his short life; the life of a gentle giant who never got the opportunity to perhaps one day become someone like Dr. King. Instead, I am left only with memories. One memory is that of sitting in Roy’s packed neighborhood church waiting for funeral services to begin. I further recall seeing six of his young friends carrying the casket of their elected class president and friend to his final resting place. I watched as most of Roy’s school was in attendance. I saw students and staff alike unable to hold back tears. And the one memory that I will never forget, is seeing rival gang members sitting in that same church paying their respects to Roy’s family for a grave mistake that was made by a novice gang member who mistakenly gunned down an innocent child on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Dr. King would have been appalled at the violence of one human being against another. I believe that Dr. King would have also been proud at how this gentle giant, in death, was able to bring people together from all walks of life and show them the devastation and senselessness of hatred and the awe inspiring power of love.

Susan J. Calloway Knowles is a Licensed Christian Marriage & Family Therapist and former practicing Family Law Attorney. She is also a Christian music Songwriter. Susan’s songs can be found at Her website is

Publication date: January 18, 2013