Mid-Week Memoriam: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today marks the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by a rabid racist at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. It was a year to the day that he gave a speech that is lesser-known, but infinitely more powerful than, the often-mentioned but woefully mis-quoted “I Have a Dream” speech. The “Beyond Vietnam” speech, given at Riverside Church on 4 April 1967, caused his relationship with the Johnson administration to deteriorate:

King had been a solid supporter of President Lyndon B. Johnson and his Great Society, but he became increasingly concerned about U.S. involvement in Vietnam and, as his concerns became more public, his relationship with the Johnson administration deteriorated. King came to view U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia as little more than imperialism. Additionally, he believed that the Vietnam War diverted money and attention from domestic programs created to aid the black poor. Furthermore, he said, ‘the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home…We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.’” King maintained his antiwar stance and supported peace movements until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, one year to the day after delivering his Beyond Vietnam speech.”

That deterioration is prime evidence of the way white people expect Black people to toe the line of “respectability politics” by “taking the high road” while demanding that we “know our place.” If we dare speak out about our personal experiences in an open, honest fashion, whites close their ears, turn their backs, and accuse us of being “unreasonable” and “racially charged” – the same accusations which were levied against Dr. King during even the most peaceful marches he organized.

Dr. King was instrumental in advancing the cause for equality, even in the face of segregation, Jim Crow laws, and personal attacks on both himself and his family. He accomplished much in just under 13 years:

Some of Dr. King’s most important achievements include:

~ In 1955, he was recruited to serve as spokesman for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was a campaign by the African-American population of Montgomery, Alabama to force integration of the city’s bus lines. After 381 days of nearly universal participation by citizens of the black community, many of whom had to walk miles to work each day as a result, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in transportation was unconstitutional.

~ In 1957, Dr. King was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an organization designed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. He would serve as head of the SCLC until his assassination in 1968, a period during which he would emerge as the most important social leader of the modern American civil rights movement.

~ In 1963, he led a coalition of numerous civil rights groups in a nonviolent campaign aimed at Birmingham, Alabama, which at the time was described as the “most segregated city in America.” The subsequent brutality of the city’s police, illustrated most vividly by television images of young blacks being assaulted by dogs and water hoses, led to a national outrage resulting in a push for unprecedented civil rights legislation. It was during this campaign that Dr. King drafted the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the manifesto of Dr. King’s philosophy and tactics, which is today required-reading in universities worldwide.

~ Later in 1963, Dr. King was one of the driving forces behind the March for Jobs and Freedom, more commonly known as the “March on Washington,” which drew over a quarter-million people to the national mall. It was at this march that Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which cemented his status as a social change leader and helped inspire the nation to act on civil rights. Dr. King was later named Time magazine’s “Man of the Year.”

~ In 1964, at 35 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. His acceptance speech in Oslo is thought by many to be among the most powerful remarks ever delivered at the event, climaxing at one point with the oft-quoted phrase “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”

~ Also in 1964, partly due to the March on Washington, Congress passed the landmark Civil Rights Act, essentially eliminating legalized racial segregation in the United States. The legislation made it illegal to discriminate against blacks or other minorities in hiring, public accommodations, education or transportation, areas which at the time were still very segregated in many places.

~ The next year, 1965, Congress went on to pass the Voting Rights Act, which was an equally-important set of laws that eliminated the remaining barriers to voting for African-Americans, who in some locales had been almost completely disenfranchised. This legislation resulted directly from the Selma to Montgomery, AL March for Voting Rights lead by Dr. King.

~ Between 1965 and 1968, Dr. King shifted his focus toward economic justice – which he highlighted by leading several campaigns in Chicago, Illinois – and international peace – which he championed by speaking out strongly against the Vietnam War. His work in these years culminated in the “Poor Peoples Campaign,” which was a broad effort to assemble a multiracial coalition of impoverished Americans who would advocate for economic change.

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s less than thirteen years of nonviolent leadership ended abruptly and tragically on April 4th, 1968, when he was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King’s body was returned to his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, where his funeral ceremony was attended by high-level leaders of all races and political stripes.”

It’s a shame that the political landscape has returned to those days. The Voting Rights Act has been virtually stripped by the same people who most likely cheered and celebrated Dr. King’s assassination. People tell themselves the lie that racism is over, simply because the U.S. had a Black president, and use that as an excuse to denigrate the Civil Rights Act and claim that discrimination simply doesn’t happen to non-white people anymore.

That is a load of rubbish that raises huge red flags to me whenever I see or hear it claimed anywhere, by anyone. I look at his words and actions as a whole and in context. Cherry-picking two quotes from one speech, as many are prone to do, is limiting and insulting. It is the modus operandi of the covert racist, a group that has come out of the woodwork and become blatantly overt over the past couple of years. They have been emboldened and empowered as of late, and their senseless, baseless white grievances encourage them to escalate and blast their coded and thinly-veiled racist gaslighting everywhere they go.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2018

Protected: Musings on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – 2017

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Monday Music: 16 January 2017

I’m working on a post about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this national holiday, keeping in mind that not all states, districts, or even industries celebrate it. Here’s a bit of music to keep you entertained while I get it completed.


Born on this Day in 1929: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy birthday, Dr. King…your dream still inspires many, as do your lesser-known speeches and quotes.


article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-9365086-2-402Although Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday will not be nationally observed until tomorrow, January 16, we want to honor King today as well, on his actual day of birth.

To learn more about this monumental agent of political and social change, go to biography.com, and to listen to a speech of his more relevant today than ever, check out this concluding segment from 1967’s “Where Do We Go From Here?” above.

Some stirring quotes from this speech of Dr. King’s include:

… I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may…

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He Had Dreams

A beautiful poem from a lovely person – I just had to share it!

In Memoriam: Malcolm X

Malcolm X – nee Malcolm Little; a.k.a. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

50 years ago today, a powerful voice was silenced by three gunmen. Malcolm X, nee Malcolm Little, was shot multiple times before a speech he was scheduled to give in front of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, on this day in 1965. He was killed by members of the Nation of Islam because he was seen as having turned his back on the group due to becoming disillusioned with its then-leader, Elijah Muhammad. His intellect and charisma were seen as threatening to many, white and Black alike. At the time of his death, he was only 39 years old.
Words fail to convey the impact this man had on the consciences of generations, and his wisdom could be sorely used today. One of his daughters, Ilyasah Shabazz, recently completed a biographical novel about her father’s life, titled “X,” and was discussing it in a recent interview. She was asked, “What would your father think of the #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations?” Ms. Shabazz responded, “He would indeed agree that Black lives matter, but…he would say that the people who need to understand the message the most…aren’t going to be influenced by a hash-tag. He would want to ask what the solutions are.” This is something that I wonder, as well – we all know what the problem is, and it’s racism. The question is, what do we do about it? What are the solutions? Racism is a social construct, this is known…but it has been the foundation of US society from day one. So, how do we deconstruct it? Where can one find honest, face-to-face discussions about deconstructing racism and sexism from the ground up? I’ve yet to locate anyplace, and I’ve been searching for years. Even some who claim to fight against these very things fail miserably when confronted with some very basic questions.
What were the events that shaped this dynamic young man? Quite a few. Born on 19 May, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, young Malcolm was one of eight children. His mother Louise, was a homemaker and his father, Earl, was a Baptist minister and supporter of Marcus Garvey. Earl’s own activism made him a target of hate groups; he relocated a number of times in attempt to elude them, but to no avail – in 1931, Earl’s body was found laying on trolley tracks in the town of Lansing, Michigan. This, and the 1929 burning of their home, were ruled as ‘accidents’ by local authorities. The stress took an unfortunate toll on Louise’s health, and she was committed to a mental institution – Malcolm and his brothers secured her release from it later on.
Malcolm served 7 years on a 10-year term on burglary charges. During his incarceration, he converted to Islam and focused on furthering his education. His evolution from “small-time hoodlum” to an outspoken, influential leader is testament to the fact that one can achieve great things, even in the face of – nay, in spite of – great adversities. I, and many others, will always wonder what this powerful individual could have accomplished if his life hadn’t been tragically and brutally cut short. Leadership such as his is sorely – and desperately – needed in this day and age.

Musings on the March on Washington’s 50th Anniversary

Wednesday, 28 August 2013, marked the 50th anniversary of the iconic and history-making March on Washington, D.C. on 28 August 1963. It was the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his legendary ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Today, a statue dedicated to him stands near the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials. If one cannot see the historical significance of that, as well as the irony, then that individual is severely myopic and suffers from a closed mind. I would say that about the people who downplay the significance of Barack Obama being POTUS, as well. If you consider the fact that it was virtually impossible for a Black person in this country to attain that position a mere 50 years ago, much less consider applying and/or running for it, then that is quite an accomplishment. But it doesn’t mean that racism isn’t a problem; it doesn’t mean that racism has miraculously been erased and eradicated, or that it isn’t still one of the most glaring social ills facing humanity.

I watch the footage from those bygone days, seeing how people from all backgrounds pulled together to face hate-based adversity and injustice, and wonder: “What the hell happened? When did people stop caring about what happens to their fellow man?” I see the racist prejudice and vitriol dripping from opinion pieces in papers and on blogs, and hear it in the incendiary words spewed by separatists on TV, the radio, and on YouTube or via internet ‘podcasts.’

I don’t believe that there is a ‘Black community’ – too many people of all shades and stripes keep echoing that falsehood, which is a separatist contrivance akin to Ebonics and the ‘one-drop rule.’ At one time, when the Underground Railroad was widely used (and necessary), there may have been a ‘Black community’ of sorts: but it dissolved when we scattered to the four winds after the Emancipation Proclamation was declared – but it was never really enacted. The insults of segregationist, Jim Crow laws, political gerrymandering, and legal lynchings seemed to drive us further apart. Other factors to include would be the destruction of entire towns with a Black populace, the hunting down of ‘freemen’ and ‘freewomen’ and returning them to slavery in the south, and the rape and murder of Black women and girls. The state we are in, here in the 21st Century, is better than it was 50 years ago – but only slightly. We seem to have made great inroads in the quest to be seen as people; to be judged ‘not by the colour of our skin, but by the content of our character’ – but when you step back and look at the bigger picture, we can see that mere baby steps have been accomplished and there is still a long way to go and much tougher ‘rows to hoe.’

For instance, it’s supposedly illegal to discriminate against others when choosing amongst job applicants: their skin colour, personal beliefs, country of origin, etc. One should only be judged on their ability to learn a specific job and to do the job well, not some fucked-up stereotype festering in the mind of the interviewer/employer. My personal experience has taught me otherwise! I have overheard people justify their so-called reasoning for only hiring whites for any given position at various corporate offices, and the reason was this: Non-whites, apparently, are “HR nightmares that nobody wants to deal with” so that is a perfect justification for not hiring us in the first place. I suspect that same ‘reasoning’ is behind the fact that we are “last hired, first fired” at those same offices. Imagine how well that ‘reasoning’ would be received if it were used to deny employment to a white, blonde woman, even if it were ‘justified’ – I can think of many reasons not to hire that sort, personally!

50 years ago: we had to drink from separate water fountains. The only jobs we could get were menial service positions, barely better than what was forced upon us as unpaid slaves – and that practice continues today. Certain areas of trains, restaurants, hotels, and movie houses were designated ‘for coloured only’ – and that was only if those places deigned to render service to us at all. In some parts of the country, toilets for ‘coloured’ people were poison-ivy infested paths which ended in a precarious drop if you missed the flimsy plank with rusted nails around the ‘sitting hole.’ Speaking of the term ‘coloured’ – isn’t it funny that the very people who forced that term on us, now say that we have no right to use it? I saw something like that on a blog not long ago – some white person was saying that the term ‘POC’ was “stupid and unnecessary.” I wonder what they thought of its usage during segregation? They never mentioned how the term came into being in the first place, but I guess it was just a convenient oversight on their part. Same goes with the term ‘Black community’ – imagine how silly people would sound if they started saying things like ‘the female community’ or ‘the Asian community’ or ‘the European community’ – for that matter, I challenge other bloggers to start doing that! Start talking about “the ills of (such-and-such) community” and see how dialogue changes! Do it IRL as well as online, since gauging people’s reactions up close and personal is what really counts.

50 years ago…I wasn’t alive during that turbulent time. My mother was weeks away from her ninth birthday, so I’m certain that she would have seen news reports on television. Sadly, strokes have robbed her of her memories. She might remember bits and pieces of events if I ask her, but it would take some time for her to recall anything – and it would take hours (or even days) for her to grasp at those fleeting recollections. The man who fathered me would probably remember a great deal more, if he wanted to take the time to talk to me and answer my questions…he was an adult and owned his own business at the time, so he certainly would have a vested interest in those long-ago events. I wonder if he attended…I should ask him – his answer would definitely be included in my book. Part of the issue with finishing my book is trying to find a good stopping point!

I digress…events leading up to, and following, the March are in history books – but not as many as are warranted. I wasn’t taught about the March in any school history classes; I had to learn about it by going to the local library, and only after the age of 12 did I start reading anything of pertinence, because the library didn’t allow children under the age of 12 into the upstairs, ‘adult’ section. Some books in the school library were more helpful and informative than my so-called ‘history teachers’ ever dreamed of being, so I looked to those books to find the answers. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln is always talked about, as is that of John F. Kennedy – but the reasons for the Civil War are obfuscated, slavery is glossed over, and the Civil Rights Movement is rendered nonexistent in most public (and private) schools. Educating oneself about all events in this country’s history should begin as early as possible, and it is an education that should last for the rest of one’s life. Events of 50 years ago are important and significant. The fight that began before those events is still being fought today, but the rules have changed. Claiming the small victories and saying that the war is won was premature. Fighting to use certain words isn’t what the March on Washington was about – people reducing it to that is sad and shameful, indeed.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today is a holiday marking the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated by a racist scumbag because of his beliefs, hard works, and the color of his skin. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964; here’s what the website says: “At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the  youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When  notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over  the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights  movement.”

His statement on politics and the two-party system, in particular, is why I feel no allegiance to either one – but, on that note, I don’t see ANY political party out there that shares my views!

King critiqued both parties’ performance on promoting racial equality:

“Actually, the Negro has been betrayed by both the Republican and the Democratic party. The Democrats have betrayed him by capitulating to the whims and caprices of the Southern Dixiecrats. The Republicans have betrayed him by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of reactionary right wing northern Republicans. And this coalition of southern Dixiecrats and right wing reactionary northern Republicans defeats every bill and every move towards liberal legislation in the area of civil rights.”

On Saturday, while a bunch of paranoid gun fetishists shot each other up at various gun shows during their circle-jerk of a so-called “Gun Appreciation Day,” sane people went out and volunteered their time to assist those in need, honoring part of Dr. King’s vision with a “Day of Service.” I’ve volunteered at various times in the past – once I went to a care facility for Black veterans of foreign wars, and just sat with people and listened to them. They were lonely and felt forgotten about, and just having someone hold their hand and talk with them about their lives was better than some junket to a casino. Lots of tears were shed on that day, all around…

I helped clean up a park another time – ugh. It wasn’t pleasant, but sometimes that’s how life is: you have to get your hands dirty in the name of doing some good! Also, cleaning up that park was a great feeling…it made it easy to laugh through the disgusting bits, LOL

A lot of whites love to quote this part of his “I Have A Dream” speech: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” That quote is but a small part of the speech, and you can’t quote it without referring to the entire speech because it loses the impact and context. Also, he said a great many important things at other speeches and conferences; those other quotes are less-mentioned, but no less important. I’ll list a few here; you can find the rest at Goodreads.com. Enjoy!

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.,    A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.,    I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.,    A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.
“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.,    The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.,    A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
―    Martin Luther King Jr.

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