I wanted to focus on the message and how it is sold to us today because I believe we are doing King's message and life a great disservice. We are sanitizing his message and his work to the point that the real King is lost on most Americans today. Especially black folks.
If you go to any school in America and the discussion of MLK comes up the first thing kids and will talk about is the "I Have a Dream" speech and the March on Washington. The vast majority of commercials during February which almost all of them talk about King only mention the "I Have a Dream" speech. Pundits, commentators, political leaders, and most writers fall into the same trap. They get stuck on the dream speech and the March on Washington. We are sold the idea that all King wanted was for little black boys and little black girls to hold hands with little white boys and little white girls. How many of you knew that the title of the March on Washington was the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice?
Very rarely do you hear about the other King. The King who believed that, yes, we needed to end segregation, but didn't want full assimilation. King himself stated: " We must use every constructive means to amass economic and political power. This is the kind of legitimate power we need. We must must work to build a racial pride and refute the notion that black is evil and ugly." King, like Malcolm, Garvey, Tubman, Washington, and many others thought that the black community needed strong black businesses, institutions, neighborhoods, and schools if we are to truly be free.
The anti-war King only gets lip service in the main stream media. We rarely delve into Kings thoughts on not only the Vietnam war, but US militarism and imperialism.
"God didn't call America to do what she's doing in the world now. God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We've committed more war crimes almost than any other nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation."
"I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government."
The fact that many black ministers and churches openly disagreed and were against King is also sanitized from our collective history. When King came to speak in Louisville (this also happened in every city he visited) many ministers tried to convince King not to come because he would bring trouble. Many sermons in black churches throughout West Louisville (and across the country) actively discouraged their members from joining the civil rights movement and attending King's speeches. Many of the sermons focused on the gospel of respectability. The Gospel of respectability says that if Black folks do what is right and are above reproach then eventually we would be accepted as equals. Protest are unnecessary.
Knowing how much push back King got from other black ministers and politicians puts into perspective just how much of an uphill battle he and movement faced.
If King were alive today there is no doubt in my mind he would be hated by many just like he was when he was alive. From Listening to his speeches he would have been against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He would have been against the use of drones and drone attacks. He would have been for raising the minimum wage. He would have supported the peaceful protest of #BlackLivesMatters. He would have been for increasing spending on the poor and taxing the rich. I'm sure King would have been happy to have seen Obama elected president, but very disappointed in his policies.
Yes, we can even talk about Kings shortcomings and his womanizing because these gives us a complete picture of the man. And if we take these things into consideration it does not diminish his greatness.
Now, more than ever we need keep the real King close to our hearts and minds and not the sanitized version we are given every year.
Why I am opposed to the Vietnam War
I am Black and Proud