MLK Day

Today, January 18, 2016 is Martin Luther King Day in America. A federal holiday falling on the Monday closest to January 15, the day MLK was born in 1929. MLK was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Establishing MLK Day wasn’t easy – a 1979 vote by the House of Representatives –  defeated by 5 votes. In 1980/81, six million signatures supporting MLK Day were collected on a petition to Congress – deemed “the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history”. Republican Senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East from North Carolina led the opposition. Helms orchestrated a filibuster against the bill in 1983, producing a 300 page document alleging King associated with communists. New York Senator Patrick Moynihan threw it on the Senate floor, declaring it a “packet of filth” as he stomped on it. On November 2, 1983 president Ronald Reagan set aside initial opposition, signing a bill which passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 338 to 90. The first official MLK Day was January 20, 1986. Not all States jumped on board, see link below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr._Day

As a little girl I remember chanting “eeny meeny miney mo, catch a n****r by the toe”, it was the early sixties, I was 3 or 4 and hadn’t the slightest concept of what it meant. Somewhere along the way the “N” word became “Tiger” – I can’t recall an explanation, all I knew was we had to decide whose turn it was to go first, so tiger it was. There wasn’t a hateful bone in my body; my family – decent hard working people who never spoke ill of anyone. It wasn’t the deep south, this was rural Canada  in 1963 – parents passing along rhymes  they learned as children – nary a thought to meaning.

I believe that “Tiger” was Martin Luther King Jr. August 28, 1963, close to a quarter million people marched on Washington, D.C. Gathered at the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King delivered his iconic I Have a Dream speech. Powerful, articulate, compelling, pivotal – I can’t think of words that do justice to this moment in history.

MLK was a proud American; a man who asked only that people uphold the American constitution, the promise of emancipation, the pursuit of life, liberty and freedom for all citizens. He calls for tolerance, understanding, and peace. He asks that the black community forgive white America and proceed in a spirit of understanding. If you do nothing else today – take a few minutes –  click below, listen to the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Listen, then ask yourself what you’re afraid of. Ask yourself what good it does to sabotage every move the Obama administration makes. Ask yourself if a “tiger” is just as capable of settling things. Ask yourself why you’re filled with contempt, ask yourself to snap out of the past, think for yourselves. Stop being afraid. Ask yourself if America is worth fighting for.

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13 thoughts on “MLK Day

  1. If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would be absolutely opposed to President Obama’s war policies—attacking and bombing countries that never threatened us, causing the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

    He spoke in his State of the Union address of the power of unconditional love and unarmed truth and then turned around and boasted of having the most powerful military in the world and of the 10,000 air strikes flown against Syrial.

    Both Obama’s admirers and detractors focus on his words, which are often noble, and ignore his deeds, which are often the opposite of his noble words.

    If you want to make an argument that John McCain, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, etc., would be, or would have been, even worse than Obama, you have a case.

    But Dr. King didn’t think that way. He did not hold back in his opposition to President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam policy on the grounds that Richard Nixon or George Wallace would have been worse. He took a stand for peace and justice.

    • You’re absolutely right. At times this bleeding heart left wing liberal Canadian forgets about realities of Obama’s record. That said, I won’t flinch on my assertion Obama is (or was/started out as) a visionary.Obama’s America coincided with the unprecedented birth of social media.A perfect storm capable of altering perceptions overnight, spreading fear, doubt, blatant lies in the blink of an eye. Obama didn’t stand a chance. He couldn’t stand his ground or implement radical change.Our world today is not the world of MLK.
      MLK was a great American, one whose humanity was squandered and lost on America, much as America squandered what Obama might have been. By no means do I consider Obama worthy of my deep despair over MLK.Above all I find myself incredibly saddened by America’s refusal to smarten up. Bernie Sanders for president. Sigh. 🙂

  2. This year’s MKL celebrations got me to pondering our ability to get stuck in the past. Have there been no civic leaders of consequence since the 60’s? 50 years is a long time during which not to have had a new civil rights leader.

    The U.S. is not alone in reflecting back upon past glories — in this case the insight and humanity of MLK — not the bigotry and hatred of segregated America. All nations seem to love to parade their visionaries for the world to see. But why are we unable to continue generating, nurturing, inspiring new leaders to instigate change in successive generations?

    When I was young — before the days of King — it was the speeches of Abraham Lincoln that I remember being taught in school. I suppose that nowadays it’s King’s speech/es that are taught. But how long before another voice is found to epitomize the spirit of a new generation?

    I would have guessed — when I was going through the era — that it would have been JFK who would have been the spokesperson for that time. His ‘do not ask what your country can do for you’ certainly got my attention. But then it’s not PC right now to suggest that we owe more to our country than our country owes to us. Is it?

    In retrospect I should feel terrible that when I was going to school that there were no Presidents to whom we could be pointed in the previous 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years prior who had done great things. There was Roosevelt who got us through WWII, but we were not taught his great speeches. There were other men who did good things, maybe even great things — but we were not taught their speeches. Indeed in the 50’s we had to look back nearly 100 years to Lincoln for a speechifier worthy of public adulation. Will we go another 50 years from here before someone comes along who will be worthy of knocking King off the pedestal of public appeal?

    Heroes are curious things… I don’t understand why we choose the ones we do. I don’t mean that the heroes we choose don’t deserve to be honored — I just wonder why it is that those individuals seem to be so perfect for a given point and place in time.

    Once again, your ponder has me pondering ancillary ideas.

    • And your perspective ignited deep pondering, contemplation that eluded initial consideration.I need a few days to sort it all out. For now – hatred and bigotry assassinated MLK.A man whose insight and humanity forgave racial injustice.Reflecting on past glory has nothing to do with it – so what if MLK was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Bigoted America didn’t listen, politicians fought tooth and nail to discredit MLK.The pedestal MLK inhabits in my mind isn’t that of hero – I see MLK as a reminder of everything wrong with social justice in America. Oh my, so much more to say but it won’t make sense until I settle down. 🙂

      • Of course hatred and bigotry are not unique to the U.S.. You can’t count on both hands and fingers the instances of ethnic cleansing and racially based wars and civil wars that have occurred since 2000. HUMANS have no shortage of hatred. And HUMANS have long memories when it comes to what they deem to be racial wrongs.

        You may be right that he is a “reminder”.

        But I think my question still stands. In 50 years have we not been able to inspire any other single individual who has stood up for the same cause? And if so — the more important problem: Why Not?

        Oh, I do think that there are people for specific times — but I find it curious that society is so ill equipped to raise up leaders/hip.

        This is of a completely different magnitude but the standoff in Oregon strikes me as yet another instance of rampant hatred — On several levels. There is the initial issue of Federal control of state lands. And the issue of how does a peaceable transfer of power occur in a society with a strong federal arm. But now we are adding in Militia members who are just itching for a fight – testosterone charged failures in life who wouldn’t mind being martyred for what the consider the greater good. It’s a curious role that hatred seems to play in contemporary society.

        The “Military-Industrial Complex” requires enemies to justify it’s continued mortgage on society assets. No enemies and people might think we don’t need a Lockheed Martin, etc., But once you begin creating enemies to order the process of enemy generation gets out of hand, and out of the control of those who wanted them in the first place and soon you have idiots and patriots creating their own enemies with whom to joust.

        I dunno… It’s a curious world we live in.

  3. Reblogged this on notestoponder and commented:

    First posted 4 years ago, I do so again because nothing has changed. Donald Trump blithers “Make America great again” without an inkling of what a great nation stood for. MLK knew what it meant. He knew racial inequality choked the premise America might ever be great.

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