Family Reunion by Laverne Ross

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Today would have been Dr. Martin Luther King's 79th birthday and in April it will have been 40 years since a bullet took him from the living world. With this being an election year and in my view we as voters have the opportunity to help put an end to eight years of the Neo-Republican insanity machine. If he were still among us I believe Dr. King would be encouraged that there is a Black man and a woman running for President with a strong chance of winning. He would be saddened at the continous Black on Black violence, the increase in violent crimes towards Black women by Black men and the ever widening gap between the rich and poor in this country.
In order to continue honoring the life of this great man, we must also know all that we can about him so that we always remind ourselves that he was a person just like us with faults, wants, fears, etc. So that we can admire him even more. We must not let others reduce him to just a slogan"I have a Dream" or that he loved everyone or that he was not tempted to abandon his non-violent philosophy.
So in the spirit of truly remembering the man and what he stood for here are things we need to remember:
  • The Civil Rights Movement did not begin with Dr. King. There were several movements in different southern states fighting for equal rights in this country. When Rosa Parks made her famous and important refusal on the bus in Montgomery, several Black leaders and ministers later decided to select a leader for the the bus boycott. They chose Dr. King, he did not seek out the leadership. But upon accepting, he dedicated himself to it and in extension the movement that would dominate his life for the next twelve and a half years.
  • We must not forget the importance of his wife Coretta Scott King and the strength that she displayed in staying by his side in addition to raising and taking care of their children. She had to endure him being away for many weeks and months, the constant death threats, her husband being jailed and other factors. Their house in Montgomery was bombed and Martin nearly died after being stabbed in the chest while on a book tour in New York.
  • The infidelity or other women in Dr. King's life. I'm not going to elaborate on this but it has been proven to be true. The notorious and racist FBI Director J.Edgar Hoover actually had his agents send Coretta tapes of him and other women. This is not a condemnation of him but part of the human weakness that he had. Again, he was human. Unfortunately this is another of the things that Coretta had to deal with.
  • He was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War even though he knew that it would put him in opposition to President Lyndon Johnson who had signed the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Many people believe this was one of the factors that lead to Johnson not running for President in 1968.
  • He was a shining example of educational excellence and continued to advocate for better educational opportunities for Blacks. He graduated from high school at the age of 15, attended a Black University: Morehouse in Atlanta, and recieved a Doctorate in Theology from Crozier before the age of 25.
  • His frienship with Bayard Rustin. Bayard Rustin is a man who deserves more attention by us as a people. He was a non violent activist and protester who actually taught Dr. King how to use and mobilize the non-violent protests in a systemized manner. He was one of the key organizers of the March on Washinghton and a key advisor to Dr. King. Oh another fact is that Bayard Rustin was gay. Dr. King knew this and in spite of the criticism I am sure he recieved from his inner circle, counted him as an ally and friend. I wonder what our homophobic church folk would think of that because I believe that Dr. King would be in support of Gay rights just as Coretta proclaimed in the years before she passed in 2006. Yes, my friends I mean that with all my heart and soul that he would embrace our Gay brothers and lesbian sisters and that they were and are part of the dream he spoke so eloquently on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial almost 45 years ago.
  • Dr. King was killed fighting for the rights of poor workers. He had come to help the striking Black sanitation workers in Memphis who were fighting for better wages and rights. He was not above helping the common man and in the end gave his life to help them.
  • Dr. King was not universally loved in his lifetime. Many called him communist, he was under constant survelliance by the FBI, many rejected his non violent philosophy and some called him irrelevant. Many Blacks did not like him and others despised him. Also it is important to know of the physical truama that the years of activism took on Dr. King. After his death, when the autopsy on him was performed the coroner declared that Dr. King had the heart of a man in his 60's even though he was 39 years.
  • Go and find the movie Boycott which I believe is the best movie to come out about Dr. King and what he fought for. It chronicles the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama and all of the struggles and eventual victory. It stars Jeffrey Wright, who virtually channels the spirit of Dr. King in his portrayal of him along with Terrance Howard as Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King. Excellent performances all round.

These are just some of the things that we must know, remember and honor from Dr. King on this day, the day of his birth. There are many things that have been realized but so much more work needs to be done. We all must get involved and help others as Dr. King and others in the movement did. We can't be silent on horrific crimes like Dunbar Village, the horror and days of non action on Hurricane Katrina, the exploitation of Black women on channels such as BET, and other atrocities. We must not be silent. We must not only vote but become educated voters. Know the issues and the candidates' stand on the issues so that in the end we are voting for our own best interests. I know that Dr. King would be outspoken on these and other issues.

Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I honor your memory and will continue to do so by living my life the best way I can and to always work towards making a positive change in this world.

1 comment:

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

great tribute hon, and if u can do stop by my spot and chk out my i told MD2, i rember the day he was killed I was 6, and national guard on my street corner in memphis tellin me i could not play in my own front yard