Getting to Know

Benjamin and Dr. Martin Luther King

A dream of racial reconciliation.

By Diane Taylor ~ Artwork by Carol Kubie

“Boys on the Beach,” is an original painting of Neville Missick and Benjamin Taylor.

Let me tell you about my son Benjamin and Dr. Martin Luther King, and how I came to write the poem on the next page. And also why I am bringing the poem to light after it has been lying dormant with a collection of other poems in a bottom drawer for the past 37 years, accessible to my eyes only.

Most people come of age in their teens. I came of age during the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s. I was well aware of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech when in 1964, I grabbed the chance to march with many others down Yonge Street in Toronto against segregation in Selma, Alabama. Busloads of Canadians travelled to Selma to encourage Black voter registration—which had only recently become legal. It was my first year teaching. I was 22 years old.

In his speech, Dr. King said he could see, “One day when little black children would walk hand in hand with little white children . . . ” He was shot and killed in 1968.

In the early 1980s, I had the opportunity to live and work on a conch farm in a primarily Black community on a small island in the Turks & Caicos Islands. By then, I was the mother of a one-year-old. It was pure joy for me to see my little white child playing with little black children, living out Martin Luther King’s dream. In the Islands, there was the chance to right the wrongs of the past, to live life the way it should be lived, free from the prejudices of race and colour. It was a chance for our children to lead us to a brighter future, to rise from history’s pain. Everyone, black and white, loved Ben and I loved sharing him. 

I have a photo of little Ben playing in the sand with his young friend Nevil Missick. They are both 3 1/2 years old.The placid ocean is just a few feet away. They are both on their knees, bodies energetically engaged in a fantastic creation. Both have their weight on one arm while the other arm is madly pulling sand into a castle that defies architectural logic, but is clearly amazing to them. And they had to be fast, for the sun was almost down on another perfect day and their mothers would soon be taking them home. 

Ben died not long after that photo. A Ben-less future was unimaginable and unacceptable. Poems were a way of connecting with his spirit and keeping him with me. I shared them with family at the time, but not since. They are too tender a part of me to be casually shared.

Then, George Floyd. After so many others. That’s why this is the right time and the right place for the boy named Benjamin to emerge from the bottom drawer into the light.

For Martin Luther King

 She had a dream

That one day

Her little blond boy

Would walk hand in hand

With little black children.

The dream came to pass.

They walked hand in hand,

Trekked island paths,

Built castles in the sand,

Ran Time into the ground.

But, it turns out it’s Time, 

Noncommittal and cold,

Does the running,

And Time runs out,

Into the costly cosmos.

Dr. King? That little blond boy—

Please take his hand in yours.

Diane Taylor

Diane Taylor lived on Pine Cay for three years in the early 1980s. She now teaches memoir writing and has published The Gift of Memoir: Show Up, Open Up, Write. She is part of Spirit of the Hills Writers. For more information, visit https://dianemtaylor.com.



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Photographer Marta Morton was enjoying another spectacular sunset when she spotted this lovely scene—a picture-perfect clump of Old Man Cacti and the pastel colours of what she later learned were crepuscular rays (see page 18). For more of Marta’s images, turn the pages of this issue and visit www.harbourclubvillas.com.

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