Archived Story

Old news stories bring future to mind

Published 12:51pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr. Day isn’t until Monday, but The Outlook has already published one story about upcoming events – a story I was privileged to write.

I’ll be honest: King Day has never featured high on my holiday radar.

But this year as I wrote the story, I thought about what it means – or what it should mean – to our community.

I found myself in our newspaper archives, looking at stories The Outlook published the first year Alexander City schools recognized King Day.

It was 1990. Kenneth Boone was on The Outlook staff then, and he took a picture of the first-ever parade that was held in honor of King Day – a tradition that still stands. The paper also published comments from students who attended the program, which is also still a part of the annual festivities.

One student commented on how King was influential for not just blacks – as a civil rights leader, what he fought for was rights for people of all races.

And as I pored over those 23-year-old newspapers, I had to wonder: what have I written that people will look back at 23 years from now?

In the year 2036, assuming God blesses us with that many years, will a young aspiring journalist pull one of those big red books of old newspapers off the shelf in our office? Will she turn the pages carefully, looking for something to help her with a present day story, and find an article I wrote?

Will it suddenly impress upon her the magnitude of the job we do as journalists? Will it give her a greater appreciation of her recent past and the people who preserved it in paper and ink so that people would never forget?

I don’t know if anything I’ve written will make as big an impact as those stories and photos made on me.

But maybe the men and women back then, who asked for King Day to be recognized and who organized those first community activities – maybe they didn’t realize the history they were making either.

Maybe those 20th-century journalists had no idea that they were contributing to what would become a rich history with every keystroke and every shutter click.

It’s impossible for any of us to know what our world will look like 23 years from now.

But my hope would be that it would bear some evidence that I joined the ranks of others who have made a difference.

James is a staff writer for The Outlook.