Showing posts with label Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Show all posts

Monday, January 17, 2022

For Dr. King's day...

I highly recommend checking out Myron Medcalf's piece up on the Strib's page. Here is a taste...

The man who died on that balcony in Memphis was a human being beset by doubts and concerns about the future of the civil rights movement. The man who died on that balcony was changing and beginning to embrace a universal Poor People's Campaign — he recruited poor whites, too — that cited capitalism and the hoarding of resources as a threat to all. The man who died on that balcony, if you believe the accounts of those close to him, had wrestled with depression and seemed to know he would die soon. As King pursued equality, America nearly broke him.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Monday, January 15, 2018

What Are You Doing For Others?

(1963, Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr., Sermon: Three Dimensions of a Complete Life, Start Page 67, Quote Page 72, Published by Harper & Row, New York. (Verified on paper))

Monday, January 16, 2017

What Are You Doing For Others?

(1963, Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr., Sermon: Three Dimensions of a Complete Life, Start Page 67, Quote Page 72, Published by Harper & Row, New York. (Verified on paper))

Friday, July 08, 2016

Monday, January 18, 2016

Still Dreaming...

Every year, I put up a post on Dr. King's day about how far we have come in terms of civil rights. This year, I honestly can't do that. In the last year, we had a racially motivated act of violence that belonged in the 1930s not 2015. We had the front runner for the GOP nomination call for an ethnic group to be banned from entering the country.

And we had the stark reality of a deeply biased criminal justice system that continues to disproportionally target young, black males. Dr. King's mission is never more needed than it is today.

One of the biggest impediments we have right now is that we seem to have trouble admitting that there still is a problem. There are many people in this country (and, yes, most of them are conservatives) who think any or all of the following:

1. Blacks play the victim too much.
2. Racism is a thing of the past.
3. Race baiting occurs more often than racism itself.
4. Our criminal justice system isn't racist. Blacks just commit more crimes.
5. Black Lives Matter folks are criminals and probably terrorists.

All of this BS has one chief theme: A DODGE OF RESPONSIBILITY.  Synonymous with the age group (adolescents) they so often behave like, people who continue to have this view of the world don't have the balls to own society's problems, especially this ever present and ongoing one. Perhaps the biggest challenge we have today is destroying every one of the myths listed above. Certainly, it won't be easy. We know from all of the various neurological studies out there that people let emotion drive reason and are often not rational.

If Dr, King were alive today, he would be marshaling his forces and directing them in efforts similar to Black Lives Matter. In fact, I think he would have been one of the main people sitting in protest on I-94 in Minneapolis. Even in the age of social media, peaceful, civil disobedience still has an enormous impact.

He would also argue against the passivity that the digital age has created. Social media can be a powerful tool in support of spreading one's message. But it also can be a distraction or worse. Dr. King once said

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

As we remember Dr, King's legacy today in 2016, these are the words we need to embrace.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Selma (Best Picture Nominee #3)

The film Selma isn't good. In fact, it's poor. Most of the reason for this is Ava DuVernay, the director of the picture. In looking at her past credits, it's clear why the movie is so uneven. The pacing is horrible and the story is more interesting if you just go out and watch a documentary like Freedom Riders.

The historical accuracy is Selma is also way off. Lyndon Johnson is played as an inept villain who seemingly tried to block the Voter's Rights Act from being passed. That never fucking happened. I'm no Johnson fan and think, in fact, that he was our nation's worst president but get the guy right, for pete's sake.

Don't waste your time with this film.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Good Words

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Dr Martin Luther King JrStrength to Love, 1963.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

A Sunday Reflection

Jesus recognized the need for blending opposites. He knew that his disciples would face a difficult and hostile world, where they would confront the recalcitrance of political officials and the intransigence of the protectors of the old order. He knew that they would meet cold and arrogant men whose hearts had been hardened by the long winter of traditionalism. ... And he gave them a formula for action, "Be ye therefore as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." ... We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.

--Dr. Martin Luther King, Strength to Love (1963) (Ch. 1 : A tough mind and a tender heart)

Sunday, June 01, 2014


And any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that cripple the souls—the economic conditions that stagnate the soul and the city governments that may damn the soul—is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion in need of new blood. 

(Dr. Martin Luther King, 27 August 1967)

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Good Words

An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality. ----(Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Some Thoughts On Dr. King

The Friday before Dr. King's birthday, I always have students ask me what I think of Dr. King. As I invariably do, I ask them what they think. But this year, I had two freshmen pretty much pin me to the wall in the last five minutes of Civics class and tell me to (once and for all!) give my opinion. So, this is what I told them.

Like many figures in history, Dr, King is "heroified," to use a James Loewen term. To a certain extent, this transformation has done him a great disservice. My primary gripe is that he is consistently made out to be a more secular figure when it was Jesus Christ and His heart of peace and love that drove Dr. King to action. Certainly, he had a profound sense of civic duty for equal rights but we shouldn't mistake the origin of his passion. The other element of his personality I urged my two students to consider is that he was not a perfect man. I wrote about this two years ago and it is still very important to remember. He made mistakes just like anyone else. He had doubts just like anyone else. He had moments of weakness just like anyone else.

In the final analysis, however, our country today is something he would have broken down and cried over with tears of joy. I told the two young women in front of me, one black and one white and best friends since pre-school, that in so many ways his dream has been realized. We aren't perfect in terms of race or prejudice but we have come a very long way. My students children's generation...simply can't conceive of a time when people were treated differently because they were black. It's as foreign to them as a time when people didn't text or have a computer. They just don't grasp the concept and that means that a great stain has more or less been culturally eliminated. I then asked them what they think Dr. King would be doing today if he was around. They both said the same thing.

"Helping people who are sick and who are poor."

His dream continues to be fulfilled.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Question For Dr. King

As I think about Dr. King on his day today, I find a question continually percolating back up to the surface of my mind. Would he be happy?

Looking at the state of race in our country today, the answer would be yes.

We have come a very long way from his time when he left this Earth almost 45 years ago. In fact, we have achieved beyond what he dreamed of in his lifetime. Talk to mostly anyone under the age of 25 of how there was a time when black people were treated differently and most of them get the gas face. Seeing past color is simply a normal day for them.

We just re-elected a black president. We've had black secretaries of state. There have been and still are black CEOs of major corporations. Black History month has gone from being an one time a year thing to all year long. 82 percent of blacks 25 or older have a high school diploma. 2.9 million blacks are enrolled in college, up from 1.2 million in 1990. That's more than double. Black owned businesses have seen their revenues rise 53 percent in the last decade alone.

In short, our culture has become much more diverse and accepting.

No doubt there is still racism and bigotry in our country. The poverty level among blacks is very high (27.4 percent in 2010) and only 18 percent of blacks have a bachelor's degree or higher. So, if Dr. King were still alive today, his efforts would likely be focused on those numbers.

But if he walked out of a door in 1968 and came through a door in 2013 he would likely be hospitalized for shock. I can only imagine what his joy would be at seeing his dream realized.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Feet of Clay

They all stared in disbelief at what they had just heard. The man who had become the center of the civil rights movement had quietly told them that he would not be joining them. Despite their protestations and questions, he said that he didn't want to risk being arrested again. They chuckled derisively as many of them had been arrested several times. Worse, many of their group had just been beaten and were hospitalized.

Yet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr would not be swayed. The Freedom Riders would continue without him.

Was he afraid he would get hurt? Or worse? It's hard to say for sure but after the first wave of Freedom Riders were severely beaten and one of their buses was firebombed, it would be a massive understatement to say that people were worried. The original intent of the Freedom Rides was to test the 1960 Supreme Court decision, Boynton v. Virginia, which stated that segregation of any kind on buses that traveled across state lines was illegal.

The initial two groups had no idea what was waiting for them when the got into Alabama despite warnings from Dr. King who urged them to call of the rides or at least postpone them until a later date. His organizaton, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), had heard that the Klan had mobilized and was going to stop them by any means necessary. After the two buses had been halted by the Klan and various mobs of people, the group tried to reorganize and met with Dr. King. Nashville student and Freedom Ride leader Diane Nash felt that if violence were allowed to halt the Freedom Rides, the movement would be set back years. But Dr. King still thought it would be better to wait.

And he refused to join them for the second wave.

It was only later in the week, on May 21, 1961, when that Dr. King organized a rally at Reverend Ralph Abernathy's First Baptist Church to honor the Freedom Riders. This rally drew a crowd of more than 1500 people who became trapped in the church as a mob of 3,000 angry whites surrounded the structure. Hours went by as President Kennedy continued to pressure Alabama Governor John Patterson to send in the National Guard. He finally did and the rally attendees were able to leave the church relatively unscathed.

I tell this story because this year, on Dr. King's day, I want to point out that the man wasn't perfect and he certainly isn't the myth that has been created around him. Usually, I post something that contributes to the legend of  Dr. King and, no doubt, he was a legendary figure who contributed an enormous amount of service to this country in terms of social justice.

But he was just a man and this year I wanted to illustrate that, like all of us, sometimes even legends have their moments when they have feet of clay.

For more information on the Freedom Riders, check out this documentary that aired on PBS's The American Experience.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reflections on Today

Last fall, The Christian Science Monitor featured race as the cover story to their September 18, 2010 issue. I had planned to talk about it back then but decided to wait until Dr. King's day today. The entire article is fantastic and it's worth a long, soaking read. Central to the piece are seven lessons that we all need to heed.

Lesson 1: Recognize how far we've come

Compare the images of the early 60s to where we are now with the first black mayor elected to Philadelphia, MS. That's quite an achievement and there is no doubt that Dr. King would be amazed.

Lesson 2: Talk about race like a Southerner

From the article...

Contrast the quick national judgment of Sherrod (who was eventually offered reinstatement, but declined) with a recent experience David Hooker, a black community-builder, had visiting Oxford, Miss., another iconic civil rights town steeped in Confederate history. Mr. Hooker, who lives in Atlanta and teaches at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., stepped into the Ajax bar to order some food. A white Mississippian sitting at the bar said to no one in particular, but within Hooker's earshot, "I remember when they didn't let niggers in here."

Recounting the episode, Hooker says he replied, "That was crazy, wasn't it? I remember that, too."

Hooker adds: "He kind of looked at me, like, 'What do you mean? You're not going to be offended?' "

The two ended up having a 45-minute chat that spanned the election of Obama, the Ole Miss football team, and hopes for their kids.

This is how to handle situations like this: find common ground. Just beautiful...

Lesson 3: Leverage 'friendship potential'

Pettigrew says that the at times juvenile "he said, she said" tenor of the race debate in America can be attributed to a simple fact: Much of the rest of America has missed out on both forced and voluntary race reconciliation in the South. That process, Pettigrew says, has been driven by the growing class equality in the region, which has raised what he calls "friendship potential" in the public sphere.

This has to do more with ignorance and a decidedly condescending attitude that many white liberal northerners have about blacks in the south. We talked a great deal about this in that Beyond Diversity seminar I attended. It's dys-consciousness...I don't know what I don't know.

Lesson 4: Blacks love Southern opportunity

This lesson will certainly please the libertarians who post here.

"What's changed in the South is that people increasingly tolerate the individual," says Mr. Griffin, explaining his decision to return and invest in the town where riot police once turned back black civil rights marchers after they crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge on their way to Montgomery. "If there's prejudice today, it's more of a class thing than a racial thing."

Essentially, there are opportunities in the south that aren't available in the north because of a new found tolerance. This would go in hand with Lesson #1...recognizing how far we have come. Far, indeed, with blacks being core to many Southern businesses.

Lesson 5: Don't stereotype whites

"People think the only [ones] negatively impacted by Jim Crow's official and unofficial policies were African-Americans in the South," says Hooker. "But [prejudice] was taught by violence and coercion – deeply wounding ways of enforcing an unnatural behavior. Over time, that's as painful for the people who have had to maintain the system as it is for the people who were intentionally marginalized.

Agreed. There is an entire unrecognized group of victims here just like Hooker. It's hard to see them at times but that would come with contact, communication, and friendship.

Lesson 6: Segregation by any other name...

A group of historians – including Mr. Sokol and the University of Michigan's Matt Lassiter – are revisiting how the North and South diverged after the Civil War. One of Mr. Lassiter's findings is that Northern segregation happened largely by the same kind of government decrees that enshrined segregation in the South.

I agree completely. This would be one of Loewen's Lies. The north had just as much complicity in the south's institutionalized slavery.

Lesson 7: Keep moving forward

The hard one. I asked the leader of Beyond Diversity how I should tolerant of intolerance and her answer was, "You just have to recognize it as their truth. Say to them 'That's your truth' and I respect it.'" Easier said than done. I'd have to say that I've done a poor job of it thus far.

But articles like this give me a great deal of hope. Dr. King's legacy is on display for all to see in the year 2010.

We are going forward because of his life and his sacrifice.