Deedra4BoS – District 2 Board of Supervisors
Deedra4BoS – District 2 Board of Supervisors
Dr. King famously said, “I’ve decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
To Dr. King, love was an action word.
For Dr. King, love meant actively standing for what he believed in, standing with oppressed people, and standing up to those who believed he was an enemy just for existing.
The Quran says, “By time, indeed, mankind is in loss, except those who believe and do good, and enjoin on each other truth, and enjoin on each other Patience.”
It takes a lot of patience to “love thine enemy.”
And it takes radical love and patience to stand up to those who wrongly believe you are the enemy…
simply because you stand up for what you believe in…
simply because you stand with those who are suffering…
simply because you don’t hide who you are.
In the 21st Century, mentioning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr is a chance to tell everyone you share his “dream of equality, freedom, justice, and peace.”
The Disneyfied version of Dr King begins and ends with his role as a civil rights leader, who summoned Christian teachings, as well as Gandhian tactics… and told us of his dream that “one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident… that all men are created equal.’”
But Dr. King called himself a democratic socialist.
Through his Poor People’s Campaign, Dr King was set to create the kind of movement that could fight not just for political… but economic freedom for all.
He wasn’t JUST a civil rights activist.
He was a tribune for a multi-racial working class… people who faced poverty, racism, and joblessness… but who, when banded together, could wield tremendous power.
For his efforts to highlight inequities and injustices at a time when many Americans felt very comfortable, Dr King was hounded by the FBI, denounced as a communist, and bombarded with death threats.
At the time, only 22% of Americans approved of the Freedom Rides that fought segregated transportation.
By the mid-1960s, polls showed 63% of Americans had an Unfavorable opinion of Dr King.
MLK said “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
Dr King traveled to Memphis in April 1968 to support striking sanitation workers.
His advisors warned him against the trip.
There were credible threats to his life… and there were other campaigns and commitments needing his attention too.
But Dr King knew he had to be there.
Dr King understood the small things are often the big things in disguise.
That the ripples from small things often change hearts and minds better than so called “big things.”
Dr. King knew which side he was on.
And there, in Memphis, Tennessee, while speaking to the people about his visions for justice, Dr. King was assassinated by the white supremacist James Earl Ray.
The history of Dr. King’s life, death, and legacy are often forgotten, sometimes deliberately… because it’s uncomfortable.
In 1983, 22 US Senators voted against an official holiday honoring King’s death on the 3rd Monday in January.
Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Senator, undertook a 16-day filibuster of the bill… claiming that King’s “action-oriented Marxism” was “not compatible with the concept of the [United States].
Senator Helms was joined by Senators John McCain and Orrin Hatch, among others.
President Reagan reluctantly signed the legislation in 1986, all the while grumbling that he would have preferred “a day similar to Lincoln’s birthday, which is not technically a national holiday.”
Arizona continued to reject the holiday until the 1991 Super Bowl boycott of Arizona proved financially detrimental to the state.
But Arizona wasn’t the longest rejector of the MLK holiday.
New Hampshire and North Caroline held out until 1999 and 2000.
Malcolm X cautioned “not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong no matter who does it or says it.”
And the qualms of the powerful to celebrate Dr King were not misunderstandings on their part.
They understood exactly what was at stake.
Because the real Martin Luther King Jr stood for a radical vision of equality, justice, and a dismantling of the military industrial complex that rebelled against the status quo… the ways things were… the mainstream thought-processes and belief traditions of the day… the way things were done at the time… the way things could be different going forward.
Maya Angelou said, “”Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Martin Luther King Jr wasn’t a prophet of unity for the sake of unity.
He was a champion of the poor and oppressed.
And if we want to truly honor Dr. King’s legacy, we’ll struggle to do better and finish the work he started.
So now we have to ask ourselves, do we share Dr. King’s “dream of equality, freedom, just, and peace” FOR ALL… or are they just nice words?