MLK, THE BLACK POWER ICON, A LION IN THE MIST OF CUBS
As a young black man, I was always taught that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a go-along-to-get-along leader. As I became a man, I learned that what the media and many black leaders were teaching us about Dr. King was entirely wrong! Dr. King was much more than the “I Have a Dream” speech.
Dr. King wanted America to be held accountable for its “Promise.” The creed “all men are created equal” means that people keep certain inalienable rights that are innate in all human beings, according to the Constitutional Rights Foundation. This stems from the idea of natural rights, meaning people are naturally free to make their choices and prosper.
STANDING ON ACCOUNTABILITY – “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1963
Dr. King was a revolutionary. He went to Washington not to just sit at the counter with white people; MLK demanded America to make good on its promise. He required a CHECK! Not for himself, not for his organization but the poorest people of the nation.
ON REVOLUTION – “For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of the South, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a radical reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values.” MLK 1967
He also recognized the unjustification of many black people and the unwillingness of the US government to solve the problem. He demanded black people to “redistribute the pain” by economic boycotts. Dr. King recognized our financial strength by promoting cooperative economics. Something for the most part Black Leadership has failed to improve as a whole.
Many Black Preachers have refused to come from behind the pulpit or the walls of their cities and challenge injustice and speak truth to power like Dr. King, but love to claim him every holiday and Black History Month.
Whatever prejudice affects the Black man in Mount Vernon, affects the Black Man in White Plains, and whatever affects the Black Man in White Plains, has an impact on the Black Man in Yonkers. Dr. King saw no boundaries in fighting for injustice.
SPEAKING OUT ON INJUSTICE – “But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” MLK 1963
Dr. King also knew that the fight against injustice must be brought out in the open for the world to see.
ON COMING FROM BEHIND THE PULPIT – “We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”
This is one of the reasons the young don’t have faith in our leadership because they don’t see our leadership openly addressing the injustice that our youth see every day.
Would Dr. King have publicly supported Democratic candidates that were responsible for Mass Incarnation of Black People, inadequate legislation and the poor economic development of many Black cities run by Black Democrats?
ON BLACK POLITICIANS – “The majority of [Black] political leaders do not ascend to prominence on the shoulders of mass support… most are still selected by white leadership, elevated to position, supplied with resources and inevitably subjected to white control. The mass of [Blacks] nurtures a healthy suspicion towards this manufactured leader.” 1967
Dr. King believed in our unity as black people to gain power politically and economically, not from dealing with a position of political, and economic weakness that we do today.
ON POLICE BRUTALITY – We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. MLK 1963
Dr. King also admonished Black Pastors for being silent on the issue of Police Brutality.
BLACK PASTORS BEING PASSIVE ON POLICE BRUTALITY – “You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.” MLK 1963
Here we are decades after the life and death of Martin Luther King Jr. still marching, singing, and fighting for jobs, justice and to be recognized as human beings in the eyes of white people.
Maybe if we told the true story of Dr. King, the real issues he fought for and stood up against, and emulated not just his words but his actions, we could finally say one day “Free at Last.”