Always, my in initial thought is amazement. Even though we're two days away from the first full year of a sitting black president, I still surprised we have a holiday for a black person. Don't get me wrong, after Christmas and New Year's Eve, I'm winding down the holiday juices. And MLK Day usually sneaks up on me. So I can be a little shook that there's another holiday so soon. But that it's a holiday in remembrance of a black man is usually what keeps me shook until the day after. Just can't get over it.
And while I'm thinking about it, let's not forget today is a national day of service. But starting a tradition of having an MLK fish-fry or cook-out couldn't hurt, could it? (Now, for those who may not know, a cook-out is the same as a BBQ, as in "neighborhood BBQ" not pulled-pork. I don't know another word for fish-fry, but it's pretty much what it sounds like.) I mean, we eat on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the 4th of July. Why not MLK Day? True, I haven't had breakfast. I'm hungry!
Another thought is something I got in an argument about with my mom, but my history professor agreed with me: too much emphasis is put on Dr. King, Jr in terms of the Civil Rights Movement. He didn't start it. He didn't lead it. He was an incredible voice for it and gave his life for it.
But he wasn't the only participant. Not the only leader or speaker, or person to give his life. He made some great moves and used some great strategy; he made some bad moves and used some bad strategy. That's not to disrespect the youngest person of color to win the Nobel Peace Prize, as he was certainly a major voice for peace. The truth is, he was human. Just like the rest of us. As he said, all it takes to be great is to serve and anybody can be great cause anybody can serve. And he was a champion servant! Don't get me wrong, he did some prodigous serving. I just wish we paid more attention to other champion servants.
A very recent thought is irony of the Civil Rights Movement/Black Freedom Movement by comparison to the Tea Party Movement. The point of the CRM was to pull everybody into citizenship on equal status. What is it that the tea party hopes to accomplish that will lift up all of America? The CRM looked to the past and said, "It's damn time for black folks in particular finally to get the rights gauranteed to us nearly a hundred years ago!" What's the tea party hailing to history for? They reach to a time when only white men who owned a certain amount of property had say, in the little European settlers had say in, in colonial government, then completely misunderstand and revise the history of American Independence. Their heroes are racist and sexist nominally Christian men who dressed like Iroquois to sneak on a boat and overturn crates of tea in part to protect settler-owned "big" business. These men weren't fighting for freedom and liberty for anybody. Just money.
What's most disturbing in terms of history are the threats of violence coming from the tea party. Gotta water the tree of freedom with the blood of tyrants sometime. They come unarmed this time. As though true revolution involves blood.
And, well, maybe they have a point. The goals of The Movement haven't been accomplished yet. The eldest surviving child of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King prefers to observe the national holiday in honor of his father as opposed to celebrating it. Martin Luther King III said there is simply too much work to be done around what his father called the "triple evils." As MLK, III puts it,
"We can't celebrate when the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism are still very much existing in our society. The holiday always gives us an opportunity to begin anew."Read the entire article, a great article, here.
The last thing I want to address is the santaclausification of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So much of what he said and did is forgotten in collective/white memory. The true MLK doesn't serve the purposes of white supremacy. Few whites, and no political conservative or libertarian of any race, would hold up MLK as an exceptional black all other blacks should aspire to. He supported affirmative action and reparations. Let's not forget that.
All right. The video that follows is a clip Dr. King giving a speech few people quote today. Yep, Dr. was "black and proud," not American and ambivalent.
But before that, if you can, help Martha Coakley (D-MA) beat her tea-party endorsed opponent Scott Brown. The dude coming strong with the stupid in the video in my previous post.
A'ight, Ladies and Gents. Hope to hear from ya soon. Holla.