The night I graduated from high school included a dinner celebration (to which I was obligated), and then a rush off to join the parties. Understanding the impetuousness of a recent graduate, I forgive myself for not enjoying the dinner company with the adults who mattered most. But at least (and unfortunately), my story isn't as much of a misstep as Ernest Green's.
He too was caught up in the excitement of his high school graduation, and after he addressed the commencement exercises, he didn't think much about his offer for dinner.
A distinguished looking man came up to him and congratulated him on a well delivered speech. He also expressed his admiration for the young man for all he'd done to help the cause. His kudos was so sincere and profuse, he even offered to take him to dinner.
"Well sir," Ernest replied with respect, "I'd really like to, but it's my graduation and I'm taking out my girlfriend."
"Oh of course. Well, maybe you could take a rain check."
"Thank you sir, I appreciate the offer. I'll be sure to take you up on that."
They shook hands and the distinguished man departed.
That night Ernest's girlfriend broke up with him.
Years later, Mr. Ernest Green would share this story as an honored speaker at a Martin Luther King holiday assembly.
Yes, the invitation had come from Dr. Martin Luther King himself, and Ernest Green, the brave young man who'd been one of the Little Rock 9, who'd defied unconstitutional segregation, had to live with turning down a dinner invitation with one of the greatest non-violent, social reformers of the twentieth century.