Fit For A King

For the last 24 years on the third Monday in January America has celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was born two years after his assassination and was not a witness of the Civil Rights era so all the info that I have on Dr. King came from videos, books, magazines and talk. The speeches that Dr. King gave over the course of his life were always inspiring. If there was a news story about Dr. King and they were playing one of his speeches, you stopped what you were doing and listened. Dr. King knew he was in danger every single day but it did not stop him from doing what he believed in which was equal rights for people of color. Thanks to Dr. King, not only Blacks have benefited from his work but people of all nations who want to call America home have benefited from the work of Dr. King.

Though I heard the speeches, read the books and seen the movies, I developed a negative opinion of Dr. King as I got older. I wondered how Dr. King could turn the other cheek against people who would lynched us, mutilated us, humiliated us; rob us and many more unspeakable acts. I grew up not hating Whites but I was angry why more was not done to turn the tide. This is America! America has never had a problem taking something it wanted so why can’t we? My attitude toward Dr. King changed around the time Spike Lee released Malcolm X. I became interested in Malcolm and his ideas were on par with my way of thinking at that time. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I had heard of Malcolm but Dr. King was the king in the Black community. After watching the movie, I decided to do my research on Malcolm and he in his own right had a powerful message. Not to say that Dr. King’s words didn’t have meaning, it was that Malcolm’s ideas were hitting home at a time when I was open to different ideas.

Life is about looking at the bigger picture. Though we are one within ourselves, we are a part of a whole. We can’t act with a selfish impulse when it comes to the progress or the regress of a group. Obtaining wisdom is part of growing up and wisdom requires one to look at both sides of a debate. As I was gaining my wisdom, I discovered that the approach that Malcolm had for Blacks in America would not have worked. This is not saying that I didn’t believe in him but his ideas for America would have kept it divided or to use the PC phrase for that era “separate but equal.” Dr. King’s goal was to make America honor the words of Thomas Jefferson when he said that “all men are created equal” but to do so he would have to put America on trial for the world to see and thanks to television, the world was going to see up close the brutally that racist Whites in the South was inflicting on Blacks seeking equality. Following the teachings of Gandhi, Dr. King decided that non-violence would be the method used to bury “Jim Crow.” To be non-violent against an enemy that had every intention to use violence was powerful and historic and Dr. King, not Malcolm was the man for the job.

Nearly 42 years after his death and 24 years after the first holiday we are back to the third Monday in January. What could we say about the man who was given this honor by America? That his actions brought attention to an America fighting to keep a way of life based on race. We are still a nation still dealing with race but my time is a lot different compared to the time that my two 78-year-old grandmothers had to endure. Times have changed but it is still a work in progress. Let me run it down for you.

Becoming CEOs of Fortune 500 companies! Out of the question.

Interracial marriage? When Hell freezes over.

Dreaming of becoming a head coach in the NFL and you’re Black! Keep dreaming.

A Black president! Has Armageddon arrived?

All these things have occurred because of the actions of Dr. King and others who believed in his dream. That Blacks and Whites could coexist with each other and not have race create divisions. The dream is not complete. There is still much work to do. Just like Dr. King, I won’t live to see the dream reach its zenith but I will live long enough to know that we won’t stop sharing the belief that we will be better if we strive for it. I end this with the last words spoken by Dr. King in public. Just hearing these words make me tear up because it speaks volume to what this man was all about. I have posted some sites that share Dr. King’s thoughts about non-violence.

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

—-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memphis, TN April 3, 1968

http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1131

http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1426

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~ by R8RBOB on January 18, 2010.

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