Saturday, April 05, 2008

Remembering a Revolutionary

In our remembrance of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Let’s not forget that the man being honored and revered was a rebel. He was an individual that bucked the authoritative system of America. When people talk about him they always talk about the “we shall overcome” MLK. The one that talks about white kids and black kids holding hands. Republicans use him to explain why we don’t need affirmative action. Democrats use him to explain why we need a reformed education system. Every Black History month we pay honor to him, sing some songs, hold hands and promise to be better citizens. Meanwhile in our high school history books, Black History goes like this:

1. Blacks were slaves.
2. President Abraham Lincoln was so wise and kind and he freed all the slaves.
3. Blacks lived under Jim Crow laws.
4. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. popped up and helped free Blacks from oppression.
5. Michael Jordan is the best basketball player ever.

Now I’m not trying to knock the message of MLK, because it is a good message. What I’m concerned about is which message are we receiving? In his later years before his death his focused changed. He still believed in civil rights but also focused on workers rights, poverty and ending the Vietnam War.

Let’s review this again:

workers rights (health care, a living wage that keeps up with the economy)

Poverty (the poor, the working poor, the homeless)

Vietnam War (War on Terrorism)

He talked about all the things that are so unpopular to talk about now. Politicians don’t want to talk about healthcare, Corporations don’t want to talk about the living wage and Vice President Richard “Trick Dick” Cheney doesn’t care whether you like the war or not. Here was a preacher that was called a traitor by whites and blacks for speaking out against Vietnam. His own people didn’t want him to go to Memphis, Tennessee to help with the sanitation workers. He had everything to lose and nothing to gain. He believed that it was important that we took care of Americas less fortunate (not just black folks).
It is unfortunate that the “Radical” MLK is not given the same respect as the “Civil Disobedience” MLK. I think the radical MLK‘s message is very timely in regards to our modern day reality. It shows that even though he was critical of the U.S. and its issues he still loved his country. It should inspire us all to want America to live up to its promise. Instead we take the easy message that fits into our agendas. When we as a people can talk about what makes us uncomfortable and how we can fix it. We will truly be paying honor to the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Also in remembering Dr. King on this weekend of the anniversary of his assassination, it is important to listen to those messages when he spoke out against the war. The comparision is not much different from that of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (Sen. Obama Barak's former pastor). Both men simply spoke the truth. Something to ponder!