Monday, January 21, 2008
Hail to the King
This April will mark 40 years since Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in Memphis. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law and it was first observed in 1986, but it wasn't until 2000 that all 50 states celebrated the holiday. Way to go, Arizona.
King was always one of my heroes. He inspired a generation to cast off biggotry and hatred and become one America. Through King’s words and more importantly, his actions of civil disobedience, he helped draw attention to the injustice facing blacks in America during segregation. King was jailed, threatened and intimidated for his beleifs.
For Al Sharpton to complain every little verbal altercation between whites towards blacks is the apex of racism, maybe the good Reverend should remember the bad old days. Having that buffoon Don Imus call a woman's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" and the shit that went down in the south in the 1950s and 1960s is completely different.
Here's what life was like if you were black in the early 1960s:
That's why civil rights was an important undertaking, because a civilization that treats people like this should look itself deep in the mirror and ask itself what the fuck it's really about. How did the country get this way? Prior to the Civil War, they were property. After the Civil War, they were lost citizens with phantom rights. A people falling through the cracks, ignored and scorned, they were shunned, relegated to the back of the bus or at separate lunch counters and drinking fountains.
All of that changed with King and other civil rights pioneers used their faith to preach about a better world, one where blacks were not better than whites, but where all races were the same in society; a true color blind nation where people were equal in the eyes of the law. King preached a rare message of tolerance sadly not heard today.
So what became of King's legacy? The black American community still faces many problems: the gangsta rap culture, an epidemic of drugs, school drop-out rates, single-parent families and a high murder rate among black youths. It's as though once King's assassination, black America just quit the fight. There's still more work to do, as King's mission is not yet complete. America has made great strides, but whenever some bonehead uses a noose as a "joke" or to intimidate, we realize we haven't come that far.
The struggle is still ongoing, but with each baby step of progress, with each black American in public office or serving the public trust or interest, America moves closer to King's dream, where people are "judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
So in the end, what do we get? A federal holiday where a majority of us still have to work. But in the end, that's what King would have wanted, I think. Recognition, respect and a chance to make all of our lives better and not just sit on our asses. That's what Labor Day is for.
"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitibility, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."
"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."
"I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."