Martin Luther King Day Reflections

Levity’s diary today in Daily Kos links to this video.

Martin Luther King Day, if it is truly to honor Dr. King, must be about April 4th, 1967 as it is about anything else. After April 4th, 1967, Dr. King was no longer a “safe” black man — he had linked civil rights with human rights and economic rights. He came out against the war! He muddled respectable civil rights advocacy with that of all those… those… hippies! Liberals were furious. As well they should have been. “Beyond Vietnam” stripped the mask off all America’s priveleged — liberal, moderate, and conservative alike.

That’s what prophets do. And one year to the day after that speech, Dr. King was murdered in Memphis. A convict who had escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary was captured two months later at London’s Heathrow Airport, charged with the crime, and subsequently convicted. (London! How does an escaped convict get to London from Memphis? Apparently by way of Atlanta to Canada. Whatever.)

So we have a holiday today, where Dr. King’s message is publicly reduced by the MSM to:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

It’s a good sentiment for 1963, as Jim Crow’s violence peaked. It’s an ambiguous sentiment forty-five years forward. How many times have we heard this quote used against people of color by those who would deny affirmative action or any other corrections to historical racism? How many times has some half-wit right-wing talking head take this as an excuse to ignore what the color of skin means to this day, while they apparently couldn’t care less about the content of anyone’s character?

Thus does the media make Martin Luther King Day a day for everyone.

Black and White.

Rich and poor.

Priveleged and oppressed.

Because without “Beyond Vietnam,” this holiday is a caricature.

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