Monday, April 4, 2011

Reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

On April 4th, Martin Luther King was assassinated by James Earl Ray.

The date sticks out in history, and is probably remembered well in the song "Pride" by the Irish rock band U2.

"Early morning, April 4

Shot rings out in the Memphis sky

Free at last, they took your life

They could not take your pride"

That was in 1968... 44 years ago, and 4 years before I was even born.

The advances in 44 years have been massive. MLK would have been 83 years old had he lived to this day, which makes me wonder, how would he see the advances of his people today? What would he think of the progress made by Black Americans?

I'm quite sure that he would see the advances in civil freedoms today for not only Blacks, but for women, and all other groups of people that were lacking in these basics prior to the 60's civil rights movement. Certainly there are many prominent Black leaders, and outspoken personalities that have moved King's foundational work and legacy forward.

These people include President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Jesse Jackson, and many more too numerous to list. I can imagine that King would look down and wouldn't be blamed for thinking, "I had a part in that" as he saw these people rise to prominence and power. These numerous success stories are triumphs for King's vision, and for that, he would be forever loved.

However, I wonder if that vision would be limited to this. I wonder how he would see his people today, and the great divide that still exists in the drugs, violence and prison problem that still exists. I wonder what his thoughts would be on rap artists still using the word "Nigger" in their music to make millions of dollars, and to glorify a gangster's life of drugs, violence, and the lack of love. This word was something that held back the Black race of people from attaining the levels of equality that white people enjoyed. In almost every way, this rap sub-culture is everything that King fought against while he was alive.

However, I wonder if every Black person looks at King as a freedom giver? I certainly wonder if these Hip Hop leaders would thank King if he were alive today out of one side of their mouth, and then preach their Hip Hop message of violence out of the other.

I think in many ways, King has liberated a race of people that was held captive for centuries, only to have his own people work against his work with Greed, and the lust for money and power.

-Which still enslaves us all today...

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