MLK… A Man Who Changed the World.
Happy MLK Day, to all you in the United States… to those of your overseas who have no clue what I’m talking about, I’ll try to help.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Baptist pastor in the American South during the 1950’s-1960’s. Dr. King was a very successful pastor, and is largely credited with starting not only the Civil Rights movement, but the Social Justice movement as a whole might not exist without Dr. King. The most famous speech ever given by Dr. King was his ever immortalized “I have a dream…” speech. To be sure, this is not the same as the American Dream (which is the perennial “hard work= rags to riches”), but it is a dream that America has vicariously owned. Dr. King was assassinated April 4th, 1968… however, his dream lives on.
Dr. King is one of the few leaders of the civil rights movment that I have steadily maintained respect for. Not just because he gave his life for his cause, but because he always preached non-violence in his cause. I’m no peacenik… if there is a reason to go to war, you better be saddling the horses, brother. However, when it comes to changing the laws of your own country, non-violence is the way to do it. The main problem of the Civil Rights movement is that it did not maintain this method of Non-violence. The night Dr. King was assassinated, for example, there were riots in at least 60 cities.
Now the sticky bit. I’m not sure that his assassination was necessarily a bad thing. Before anybody gets jumpy, its tragic that someone with as unifying a message as that of Dr. King was lost. However, the man also had some darker ties. I’m referrencing the fact that one of his biggest/most direct influences on his early message was a man named Bayard Rustin… a man who was not only openly homosexual, but deeply with the Communist Party USA as well. I’m also referring to the “Poor People’s Campaign”… Dr. King’s later organization designed to fight for “economic justice.” By being killed when he was, Dr. King became a martyr for the Civil Rights movement, and yet Dr. King wasn’t around long enough to dilute the power of what he achieved by getting “off track” into other stuff. In fact, it is my personal opinion that had Dr. King lived on, he would have gotten many economic legislations passed that would have crippled the black community further than it was prior to the Civil Rights Movement. After all, why get a job if the Government will pay you for being a certain color? It isn’t popular, but I don’t think the demise of MLK was necessarily a 100% bad thing. By being shot when he was, Martin Luter King provided the exclamation point to the Civil Rights movement, and did not dilute the power of his own achievements. In 1977 Jimmy Carter awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. King (posthumously), in 1986 Ronald Reagan established Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national holiday, and in 2004, Congress awarded Dr. King with a Congressional Gold Medal (posthumously).
Happy MLK Day, to one and all.