Monday, January 21, 2008

Dream turned nightmare?

There is something special about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but it’s not the stuff they write in the history books.

Many people are unaware of the reality, but Dr. King's support and popularity from the general society saw a significant decrease as he drew closer to his assassination. Don't be completely taken by all the commenorations, the furniture sales, and the commericials you see. For a while Dr. King was a far stretch from being an "American hero." In fact, it wasn't until after his death that his cause was able to acheive the type of mainstream validation prevalent in today's world. As with just about any other personality with a profound message/agenda, Dr. King was more appreciated in death than he ever was in life.

I believe that we should keep this in mind when we celebrate Dr. King’s life today.

Some are quick to point out that Dr. King was awarded a Noble Peace Prize while he was still alive. But I submit to you that he received that award in Norway, not in the deep South. Let's face facts: people simply did not like him. In fact, as he drew closer to his death, his popularity significantly diminished. His bold anti-war protests made him a target by governmental agencies. His association with Bayard Rustin drew criticism and rumors. Many fellow blacks resisted his nonviolent approach in favor of retaliation. Colleges and universities withdrew their offers to have him speak. I even heard rumors of him being involved with Rosa Parks.

Although Dr. King is now widely celebrated as a great American hero, we must never forget that he was also once seen as one the greatest threats to the American agenda.

Interestingly, though most of the assault came from bigotted right-wingers who boastfully stood in the way of black progress, MLK was quick to point out the role of liberals who were typically resistant to the flourishing of blacks in the south. He often called out liberals who were ostensibly committed to being the "moral" voice who -- when it was time to act -- did nothing and often steered clear of the awesome role of embracing blacks. This disassociation provide as much of an obstacle to black progress as the blantant racism of opponents to the Struggle.

Sadly, I can't say that things have progressed all that much. While we celebrate Dr. King's life, many of the things he stood against are allowed to live on. We still rely on the machine of war to promote our version of "right". Republicans still dismiss the plight of minorities, the poor, and the disenfranchised. Democrats still tip toe around the prevalent issues of the time, while doing little (if anything) to annihilate racism, sexism, and classism. Many sections of Black America continue to be divided, uncommitted to progress, and supportive of socially void and destructive institutions (*ahem* B.E.T.)

So much for "The Dream."


In the spirit of the times, I think I still have a little hope remaining in this world. Especially after seeing this again:

Preach Brotha Martin!

Let our world's healing being NOW!


5 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Deb S. said...

Amen. Thoughtful post. I think Dr. King ventured more deeply into "dangerous territory" when he voiced his opposition against the war in Vietnam. You're right, Andre: Dr. King is "appreciated more in death than he ever was in life."

Here's to keeping the dream alive.

Malik said...

I hope I can live my life with half as much courage and integrity as Dr. King had.

Andre said...

@ Deb: You're absolutely right. As much as I'd like to be committed to a cause so deeply that it becomes almost sacrificial, I'm not so sure I'd go against the grains so vehemently. To do that as King and other folks in the Struggle did took -- as Malik just pointed out -- courage and integrity.

KC said...

Amen again!

Without Dr. King, there is no us.

heiresschild said...

thanks for doing a post on Dr King. i haven't been up to a new post, even though i've left some comments here and there. i think he's one of the greatest men who've ever lived.