ON THE CUSP OF BHM 2020
Monday, January 20 was the celebration of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. Actually, his official birthdate is January 15, 1929, but in America it’s recognized with an official holiday, in some states reluctantly so. His race and what he championed in his lifetime wrankled many, and by extension his legacy continues to dredge up ill feelings, anger…
And in some places there’s still push back as political power brokers still deem the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr persona unworthy of an official national holiday.
If he were still alive the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would’ve celebrated his 91st birthday on the 15. Nevertheless, just a mention of his name still lends to a sense of pride; he continues to
inspire people across all socio-economic, -political, racial and other lines.
Nevertheless, love him or loathe him, the iconic civil rights soldier would’ve been 91 this year. And millions of people across the US and elsewhere continue to embrace the man’s legacy of civil and human rights, social rights, and anti-war advocacy.
So, as has become the norm each year Dr. King’s birthday is celebrated, NPR (National Public Radio) broadcast a snippet of a famous speech he made at the famous Riverside Church in New York City in 1967. It’s where, in one of his most famous speeches—some call it a landmark speech”, Beyond Vietnam, that Dr. King famously described the U.S. “[…] as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today…” And from his perspective, the war was “a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.”
In a similar vein later that year he stated that “the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together…we could not “get rid of o¬ne without getting rid of the others [and] the whole structure of American life must be changed.”
He stated that “the injustice of the conflict was inextricably linked to the African American struggle for civil rights. The war was an enemy of poor people because it diverted money that could be used to mitigate the effects of poverty. And the poor, especially the African American poor, were being killed or maimed in higher proportions than their representation in the U.S. population…”
And as is the case when people – individuals, groups… — decide to be visible and vocal there’s push back, demonizing, character assassination…
“Much of his, Dr. King’s, speech was a demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.”
In 2020, the beginning of a new decade, where the world we presently inhabit is far from perfect, and the spirit — life and times, legacy and impact — of Dr. King must be conjured as we who would like to see a better and more vibrant community (the lack of which is a plaintive complaint I often hear from those who are truly concerned about our current state of affairs) rise from the ashes we seem to be mired in, let’s hope that as we move forward into the year and decades to come, we will find ourselves in a truly fertile environment and community of visible and tangible achievement.
As we all know talk will only get us so far. And we do a lot of that, saying all the right things, but ultimately nothing ever materializes… But in whatever, personal and collective, nothing can, will ever be realized without that oft-stated African spirit of Harambee. And I’m not thinking of that gorilla that picked up that young white boy who found himself in a zoo in the U.S. some years ago, and the outcome.
This Harambee has a deeper and greater significance.
Problem is we always get in the way of [our desire and ability to] to show real progress, the myriad obstacles notwithstanding.
Our Daily Bread January 20 Reading, Clean Containers, speaks to some of what continues to hamper us. It’s about hatred. Here’s an excerpt: Hatred: “Hatred corrodes the container that carries it.” If you have access to it, read it.
Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech and spirit evokes images we can relate to.