On MLK Day, A Question: Are We Moving Forward? [Disgrasian]
After declining an invitation to an MLK Day event–telling critics to “kiss my butt”–and dubbing the NAACP a “special interest group,” newly sworn-in Tea Party governor of Maine, Paul LePage, backtracks…a little. [Reuters]
Contemporaries of Dr. King discuss how the hateful political rhetoric of today echoes that of the civil rights movement’s dark days. [CNN]
How the right-wing co-opted Dr. King’s legacy in 2010. [Colorlines]
Quoted: On the Misintepretations of Dr. King’s Messages [Racialicious]
The way in which we have forgotten or been misled about King’s legacy is never more apparent than when asking children what they know about his message. Sadly, when I have done so, the most typical answer given is that King stood for not “hitting people,” or “not hitting back if they hit you first,” or that his message would be, were he alive today, “don’t join a gang.” While all these things are true I suppose, they rather miss the point.
After all, King’s commitment to non-violence had a purpose larger than non-violence itself. Non-violence was, for King and the movement, a means to a larger end of social, political and economic justice. Non-violence was a tactic meant to topple racism and economic exploitation, and lead the world away from cataclysmic warfare. That so many young people seem not to get that part, because teachers are apparently loathe to give it to them, renders King’s non-violent message no more particularly important than the banal parental reminder that we should “use our words” to resolve conflicts, rather than our fists. Thanks, but if that message were all it took to get a national holiday named for you, my mother would have had her own years ago.
This is nominally a day of celebration, of rememberance for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. But some folks just can’t leave well enough alone.
It’s also past time for y’all to realize that Dr. King wrote essays, gave speeches and had interviews after August 28, 1963. Some of the things he had to say are going to make you uncomfortable like the 1965 Playboy interview or his comment in the wake of the 1965 Watts Riots.
Let us say it boldly, that if the total sum violations of law by the white man over the years were calculated and were compared with the lawbreaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the white man.
The post 1963 Dr. King was more radical than you’ve been led to believe. When he was assassinated in 1968 he had a popularity rating below 30%. As he opposed the Vietnam War and increased his focus on economic empowerment issues he became less popular with whites, especially the ones who benefited from the jacked up status quo.
Digging in the Crates: Remembering Martin Luther King [PostBourgie]
The Martin Luther King of American memory serves this nation as the safe Civil Rights leader. When shrunk to fit within the confines of soundbite history, the pages of a textbook, or the scenes of a primary school pageant, King is cleansed of anger, of ego, of sexuality, and even, perhaps, of some of his humanity.
Counterpoised against the ostensibly violent Malcolm X, who supposedly would have forced America to change its ways by using “any means necessary,” King comes off as a cuddly moderate — a figure who loved everyone, enemies included, even whites who subjugated black people. Although there’s some truth lurking behind this myth, there was more (about both X and King) to the story: complexities and nuances that escape most popular recollections. Martin Luther King, no matter how people remember him now, was not nearly so safe as most of us believe.