Archive for Martin Luther King

RNC Luncheon

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics with tags , , , , on September 24, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Purnell Headshot

By Purnell, Black Men In America.com Guest Columnist

MENDING FENCES ON THE HILL

It opened with the “Pledge of Allegiance” followed by the singing of the “National Anthem” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” This was powerful patriotic material tastefully presented, well received and resulted in an electrifying effect upon the audience. There was even a sprinkling of “Amens” heard at the end of James Weldon Johnson’s famous song!

Formal luncheons are usually mundane affairs on the Capital Hill circuit, but a Commemorative Luncheon on August 26, 2013 dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the historic March On Washington in 1963 sponsored by the RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and hosted by Kristol Quarker, the African American Liaison Chairperson…proved to be an exception. It was a delightful, cordial affair attended by an over-flow audience of local as well as national Republican personalities. Present was a representative blend of age and racial groups connected by a belief in and a dedication to, the tenets of Republican philosophy.  Some invitees were seemingly longtime local members of the party, others were well known national Republicans, while quite a few appeared to be recent political converts eager to hear the ideas of those steeped in a political philosophy they were now being invited to explore. The new folks were highly pleased by what they heard and favorably impressed by the sincerity of the speeches delivered by the honored guests. If not there to adopt a more conservative alternative political philosophy, the guests had at least expressed enough interest in the GOP for the Republican hierarchy to extend an invite. This event was special in several ways and for several reasons, but what made the affair unusually important was that a cohesive African American group was willingly and publicly edging closer toward Republicanism.

The irony in all of this is that it was white abolitionists who founded the Republican Party in 1854…to end slavery. By 1860 the first Republican President of the United States had been elected: Abraham Lincoln, “The Great Emancipator.” True to their credo, the first Republican president issued the “Emancipation Proclamation” to free all slaves on January 1, 1865. Radical Republicans of the 39th, 40th and 41st U.S. Congresses finished the job of making former slaves full citizens of these United States by passing the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments between 1865 and 1870. Later in the South, following the “Compromise of 1876,” southern black men were the mainstay of the Republican Party at great personal risk. They maintained their allegiance to the GOP well into the 20th century despite the murderous onslaught of white racist extremists in Dixie and the crippling effects of prejudice in the North. American politics is uniformly silent on this heroic legacy, to the detriment of African Americans and to the regret of White Republicans of goodwill.

Interestingly enough, in the course of the observance held at the Republican National Committee’s headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., a common theme seemed to reoccur. This repeated message found expression in various ways coming from dissimilar speakers recounting experiences from different time periods and within the context of a variety of professional situations. The crux of the matter is the seeming inability of the GOP to attract and retain a significant number of African Americans. It seemed to defy logic that an obvious political oversight had been ignored for so long that it has become a glaring embarrassment to the GOP and regrettably generates the grounds for accusations of racism from GOP detractors. A nagging embarrassment for Republicans, the problem is continually bewildering for many black Republicans and exerts an especially inhibitory circumstance for the growing number of African Americans who are reconsidering their blind allegiance to the Democrats. The difficulty as articulated repeatedly was this: “How can the GOP gain traction in African American communities in the United States following decades of neglect and what is the most promising approach to accomplishing that task?” Each time that the concern was elaborated upon, the audience responded with generous applause followed by thoughtful silence. That pattern between the speakers and the luncheon guests…agree that there is a problem and call for a prompt, rational solution…characterized attempts to address a sensitive, seemingly incongruent truism in contemporary Republican Party affairs.

               However, it seems that the means to solve the GOP’s dilemma with regard to black voters in America is inherent in the general description of the problem itself: a dormant mutual political HISTORY of long standing. It is incumbent upon the Republicans to establish that within the shared history of blacks and “The Party of Lincoln” can be found common values, ideals and a conservative ethic. Despite all the appeals to reason and sentiment served up as rationales for reconnecting blacks with Republicans, the element of motivation is apparently lost. So how best can the African American community be convinced to re-embrace Republican political thought and initiatives? Perhaps the historical approach combined with a substantial dose of conservative philosophy would work. This idea seems to hold the most promise for a political reconciliation. But why use an historical approach?

Carved in stone above the entrance to the U.S. Archive, America’s repository for its national narrative, are the words, “What Is Past, Is Prologue,” meaning…what is past, is “first.” Not many Americans look up as they walk into the imposing entrance to this building, but the words are there. For the GOP, the words above the entrance to the Archive could be instructive. It’s a relatively simple proposition for the Republican Party…they have to tout the finest aspects of their past relationship with blacks with emphasis on areas of shared agreement and then proceed to point out areas of political and value-based commonality. Extend an invitation to blacks to join the GOP mid-term and 2016 efforts to regain the White House and the Senate. There will be vigorous opposition to that partnership by the Left and the secular liberals who dominate the media…that’s their job. Their wailing will have to simply be ignored.

Notice that as blacks became estranged from the GOP, America drifted into a wonderland existence where there is no right or wrong and where dissent is vilified. Take for instance education; it is well known that secondary and higher education has been dumbed-down to pathetic levels by the adoption of secularist’s educational philosophies. And further, how can it be that 2 or 3 dozen colleges and universities out of a total of some 4,100 in America are managing through research and development to maintain US technological superiority in the world. Even worse, among the 30 top industrialized nations in the world, the US educational attainment now ranks 25th or lower on virtually all measures. These circumstances highlight a pathetic national reality. Ironically though, there is an opening here for the GOP.

               Republicans must respectfully elevate American political discourse with reliable, verifiable information, presented in novel ways, intended to capture the attention of African Americans long enough to loosen the grip of the other party and begin to neutralize the bandwagon-effect of using super liberal celebrities as instruments of political persuasion. A value system to live by has to be clearly articulated. A common-sense approach to the national problems of today and a move toward God, family and country needs to be formulated. An overpowering government needs restraint. Moreover, a clarification of the Republican ideology for the black community is long overdue. The list of essential actions obviously goes on, but the idea of active engagement has relative merit and the GOP must decide upon a course of action aimed at embracing its African American brethren.

               Clearly, today’s GOP is not the “Party of Lincoln” as its detractors self-righteously take every opportunity to point out. Republicans have to counter that criticism by simply establishing that the GOP is a body of guiding principles which transcend individual personalities…and that those principles have remained viable and intact. Republicans have to proudly claim and advocate for the ideals and values that carried African Americans through their epic struggle for freedom from American chattel slavery. They have to rally around their philosophical body of thought and make it clear that they are as legitimate today as they were in 1854. Surely those cherished traditional ideals deserve to be revisited by old friends seeking common grounds.

The March on Washington at 50

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists, Politics with tags , , , , on August 27, 2013 by Gary Johnson

William Reed

Business Exchange by William Reed

Fifty years to the day that Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, President Barack Obama will take to the same steps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The march is one of Black American’s greatest achievements. Tourism officials in the Nation’s Capital are hoping that a quarter-million people will assemble in Washington, August 21-28, 2013, for events hosted by the King children, the remaining four of the original “Big Six” organizations and the march’s last living organizer, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), and other organizations such as the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

The main events will include a commemorative march and rally along the historic 1963 route and a “Global Freedom Festival.”  The rally will be held at the Lincoln Memorial and the festival on the National Mall. Among the featured speakers and groups are: Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, the families of Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till; Lewis, and a host of Democratic officeholders and union officials.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 years ago remains one of the most successful mobilizations ever created by the American Left. Organized by a coalition of trade unionists, civil rights activists, and feminists of the day, most of them African American and nearly all of them Socialists – the protest drew nearly a quarter-million people to the Nation’s Capital. It was the largest such demonstration in the history of the United States and set the stage for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Unfortunately, many of the issues that gave rise to the March on Washington 50 years ago remain unfulfilled or under siege today. African Americans are still nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as Whites, a rate unchanged in the past 50 years. Actually, “March 2013” serves as bitter reminders of not only how far we still are from realizing “the vision for jobs and freedom”, it also underscores how ephemeral the gains made by the civil rights movement currently are in today’s society.

As Black Americans assemble in Washington D.C. again, it’s important that Blacks remember the role the late Bayard Rustin played in the march and subsequent movements. A proud Black gay man, Rustin served as an indispensable architect of the civil rights movement. His most noteworthy achievements include serving as chief organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, mentoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and helping to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

Quiet and dignified throughout his career, Rustin probably would view with disdain the drama that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities wrought when they allowed local gay activists to summarily dismiss gospel singer and Pastor Donnie McClurkin from performing at a concert, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

A spokesperson for Gray said that: “The Arts and Humanities Commission and Donnie McClurkin’s management decided that it would be best for him to withdraw because the purpose of the event is to bring people together,” said Doxie McCoy. “Mayor Gray said the purpose of the event is to promote peace and harmony… that King was all about.”

Whether MLK “was all about” deference to gay lifestyles is questionable. However, McClurkin said he was “asked not to attend,” and cites the article he penned on a Christian website in 2002 that said that he struggled with homosexuality. “I’ve been through this and have experienced God’s power to change my lifestyle,” McClurkin wrote. “I am delivered and I know God can deliver others, too.” A longtime gay rights activist, Phil Pannell, raised objections with the mayor’s office because he said McClurkin’s comments on homosexuality were not in keeping with the spirit of the “beloved community” about which King spoke. Surely, the Gray administration cut a check to McClurkin, his management and musicians.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

Tavis Smiley Booted From Martin Luther King Event

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics, President Barack Obama with tags , , , on January 15, 2013 by Gary Johnson

TavisSmiley

Tavis Smiley, the PBS talk show host who has criticized President Barack Obama for not doing enough for the African-American community, says he was ousted as the speaker at a Martin Luther King luncheon because he was trying to hold the president accountable.

“I don’t see my role as one of criticizing the president. I see my role as one of holding the president – this and every other president-accountable,” Smiley said on Fox News on Monday.

“Something is wrong with this country … that so often the political right, and I am no defender of the political right … gets accused of playing the game of political correctness. What this underscores is that those on the left, the Democrats can play that game of political correctness as well,” he added.

Smiley was booted from the 20th annual MLK luncheon on Jan. 16 that is hosted by the Peoria Civic Center. The group announced last week that Smiley had been replaced by Michael Eric Dyson as the guest speaker of the event, citing people who were “upset about comments that Tavis Smiley has made.”

Note:  This website and blog has talked about Tavis Smiley for years.  You can debate whether he has had a fall from grace.  Or whether or not he is an unbiased and objective news person.  We’ve dubbed him a “whiner” and “crybaby,” but that’s just us.  Here’s a recent news article about Tavis from the Politico.

Source:  The Politico.  Click here to read the rest of this story.

Related article https://bmia.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/tavis-smiley-shrewd-misguided-and-one-of-the-biggest-whiners-in-the-business/

A Liberal Dose Of Confusion

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Politics with tags , , , on January 20, 2012 by Gary Johnson

By Raynard Jackson

As America celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s birthday this week and is getting ready to celebrate Black History Month in February, I have reflected on the state of liberalism and its impact on the Black community and have concluded that I am very confused!

What am I confused about?  Before Obama’s election as president, no one thought we would ever see a Black person elected president because of racism.

Since Obama has been elected president, can one reasonably postulate that racism has become less of an issue?  If the answer is no, then how do you explain Obama’s election?  Remember, conventional wisdom was that America was too racist and would never elect a Black president (and remember, whites are still a majority of the electorate, so therefore, there were a lot of whites who voted for Obama).

If the answer is yes, then why do liberals constantly blame the plight of Blacks on racism?  You can’t have it both ways.

So, whites are too racist to care about the plight of Blacks, but no longer too racist to vote for a Black candidate for president?

Is it white America’s fault that they helped elect a Black president that took almost two years before he met with the Congressional Black Caucus (despite meeting with gay and Hispanic groups sooner and more frequently); is it white America’s fault that they helped elect a Black president who told the CBC last September to “stop complaining” [about him not doing anything for the Black community]; is it white America’s fault that they helped elect a Black president who has fewer Blacks in his administration than George W. Bush?

Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver (from Kansas City, MO and Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus) famously said last year, “if Obama was white, we would be marching on the White House.”  Cleaver was making reference to Obama not paying attention to the Black community.

Here you have the first Black president of the U.S. who is doing everything in his power to ignore the very community that gave him 96% of their vote.  And people like Cleaver are giving Obama a pass simply because he Black?

Why was there no outcry from the NAACP, the Urban League, Al Sharpton, or Jesse Jackson about Cleaver’s racist comment?  So, it’s racist when a white person in power ignores the Black community, but it’s ok if a Black person in power does the same thing?

King fought and died for the principles he believed in.  King constantly criticized both Kennedy brothers over civil rights; he constantly criticized Johnson over Vietnam.  I can’t imagine King giving Obama a pass simply because he was Black.  His moral compass would not have allowed him to remain silent.

Cleaver, and those who think like him, does a great disservice to everything that King stood for.

There are more Black elected officials than ever before, but the pathologies in our community are getting worse (unemployment, crime, teenage pregnancy, etc.).

Who is to blame for this?  White folks?  Devall Patrick, the Black governor of Massachusetts, has not improved the plight of Blacks in his state.  David Dinkins (New York), Tom Bradley (Los Angeles), Coleman Young (Detroit), all former mayors, never improved the plight of Blacks in their cities with their liberal policies.  Was that because of racism also?  The two exceptions to this were former mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson and former mayor of Washington, DC, Marion Barry.  Why were they so different than the other Black mayors?

They focused on increasing Black entrepreneurship by increasing more opportunities for private sector and government contracting.  These two mayors created many Black millionaires, who created jobs, and hired people who paid taxes and helped to create stable communities.

So, on the one hand, Blacks said America would never elect a Black because of racism.  Blacks then turn around and say Obama can’t do anything to specifically address the needs in the Black community because of racism (meaning white racist will accuse Obama of being partial to Blacks).

I am confused!

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com), Freedom’s Journal Magazine (www.freedomsjournal.net), and U.S. Africa Magazine (www.usafricaonline.com).

First There Was Tavis, Then There Was Tom

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Gary A. Johnson, Politics, President Barack Obama, Racism with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

I don’t know what to make of nationally syndicated radio show personality Tom Joyner.  I don’t consider Joyner an intellectual lightning rod, however, the morning deejay also known as “The Fly Jock,” reportedly has approximately 8 million listeners to his radio show.  If those numbers are correct, then Joyner’s radio show reaches one in four black American adults.  This commentary is about Joyner’s blog post a few months ago that has recently been getting mainstream media attention.

I have decided to separate Joyner’s philanthropic and fundraising efforts for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) from this commentary.  His work in that area is unparalleled.

Joyner’s syndicated radio show is part news and a lot more entertainment in my view.  That being said, Joyner continues to make news headlines with an old blog posting (July 2011) where he essentially told Black America to vote for President Obama simply because he is black.  Whoa!  Joyner’s position does raise some political and philosophical issues.

In 2008, the election of a black President of the United States of America changed the political landscape.  What happened to evaluating a candidate based on his or her record of performance and how the issues outlined in the campaign impact you and your family?  To his credit, Joyner stated that we are all not “like-minded,” but went to write that we need to have a common goal in this election and that goal is to make sure that President Obama is re-elected.  Joyner understands that we have the right to vote for whomever we want; he just thinks that not voting for President Obama is not a good use of your vote.

There is something about Joyner’s stance that doesn’t sit well with me.  Joyner is not alone.  Former syndicated radio host Bev Smith, reportedly has urged listeners to vote for President Obama based on his race.

Does Joyner and company realize that President Obama did not win the 2008 election based on the black vote alone?  Blacks voted in record numbers, but a whole lot of independent voters of all races, cast their vote for him too.  Voting for President Obama just because he is black is a very dangerous and slippery slope.  Some of my colleagues are ready to throw Joyner under the bus for this position.  I have him resting comfortably in front of the rear wheels of the bus while the the motor is running.  My foot is on the brake and the transmission in 1st gear.

What would the Freedom Riders and the hundreds of other black and white civil rights leaders of the past have to say to Joyner if they had the chance?  I wonder if they would agree with his position.

The reality is President Obama was able to win the historic election in 2008, not solely because blacks turned out in huge numbers, but because many whites, Latinos and other races supported him as well. To suggest that blacks support him just because of the color of his skin is just wrong. It’s dangerous. Tom Joyner has done a lot for the black community and I won’t throw him under a bus, but I am very disappointed by his comments rallying blacks to support President Obama on the basis of his race. Blacks should support Obama because they agree with his stance on the issues and that he best personifies their needs. I would urge each voter to take the time to do some research on where all the candidates stand on the issues that affect you the most. If President Obama is the one whose views are similar to yours, then vote for him come November 2012.

If you look down the proverbial “re-election bench” you will see the Rev. Al Sharpton (who has a television show on the MSNBC network) suited up and echoing the same message.  During the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, DC in October 2011, Joyner and Sharpton were saying that President Obama should be judged not on the content of his character and policies but rather on the color of his skin.  WTF?  When you vote for President Obama because he is black, doesn’t that fly in the face of those in the civil rights movement who marched and died for us to have choices and the right to vote?

My very unscientific poll reflects that not everyone is on the Tom Joyner bandwagon.  If you injected President Obama with truth serum I’m not sure he would say, “Vote for me just because I’m Black.”

In his blog Joyner writes:  “Let’s not even deal with the facts right now.  Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride – and loyalty.  We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s a black man. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done. We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s a black man. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done.”

How about assessing this President based on what he inherited coming into office and how he has performed for example in the areas of foreign policy, the economy, health care, managing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while in office?  As adults our assessments will differ but at least we have the chance to consider a number of situations.  I would suggest that all citizens ask themselves the following question:  “Am I better off now than when President Barack Obama took office?”  Some will say, “Yes” and others will say “No.”  If you answered, “No” to this question, and you believe that President Obama has underperformed, there is nothing wrong with evaluating the President’s performance and deciding that in order to improve your circumstances you might vote for someone else.

Black unemployment is 16.7 percent, the highest it’s been in almost 30 years.  You may determine that voting for President Obama is in the best interest of you and your family and cast your vote for him in 2012.  The point I’m trying to make is that all of us should take the time to think and evaluate all the factors that matter to us and cast your vote accordingly.

Click here to read Tom Joyner’s commentary.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.” 

The Bridge: A King Sized Mistake

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , on August 31, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

I’m accustomed to having a divergent viewpoint, even though some people still get all strange and twisted reading my column.

But to those who still think on a regular basis, this piece should come as no surprise.

I’m a Brother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s  illustrious fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and I sharply disagree with something that people across the land are lauding as a monumental achievement.

Alpha Phi Alpha spearheaded the raising of more than 100 million dollars to erect a monument of our beloved Dr. King in Washington, D.C.

Some people are so proud that they are angry at any detraction from the celebration of such an accomplishment.

But I have no celebratory mood to offer.

I have no cheers or “attaboys” to contribute.

I have nothing but sadness and disappointment.

I am sad and disappointed for several reasons.

First, Dr. King was a man who placed his life on the line for improvement of mankind, not so that he could be lauded and celebrated.

He was a man who exemplified the true spirit of our beloved fraternity, in that he was a man who lived his life in service. He was a genuine spirit because he did so without seeking glory.

In his “Mountaintop” speech, Dr. King made it clear how he wanted his life and his contributions to mankind to be remembered:

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy…tell him not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize. That isn’t important. Tell him not to mention that I have 300 or 400 other awards. That’s not important. Tell him not to mention where I went to school. I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.”

Yes, he tried to love people and that is what he wanted people to remember.

I remember when Stevie Wonder led the effort to get a national holiday in honor or Dr. King. Oh, how the people worked and oh how they celebrated when the day of celebration became a law.

But I also remember that over the years, the day began to lose its shine and its reason for people having a day off of work. Many people forgot about the reason for the day and began to forget about magnifying the works of our beautiful hero.

But there are other reasons why I have been opposed to the monument and why it saddens me to see it come to fruition.

I am disappointed because more than 100 million dollars were raised for a monument that will be great for children to visit, while millions of children are unable to eat and unable to afford clothing.

I am disappointed that 100 million dollars were raised for a celebratory rock, while millions of people are living between a rock and a hard place on the streets.

I am also disappointed that 100 million dollars were raised and that people will be sticking their chests out, while our collective war chest is empty—empty of resources and empty of promise for the future.

The 100-plus millions could have been employed for purposes that would have changed lives and made strides toward the dreams that Dr. King gave his life for.

Instead, we will have a rock that we hope will teach a lesson or two.

But the greatest lesson we could have learned has been ignored.

We should have learned that instead of seeking to idolize any of us, we should empower many or most of us.

But we keep waiting for a savior to do that for us.

Sadly, we are waiting, but Dr. King ain’t coming back.

Without a savior to guide us and die for us, we are divided and confused and so we rally around things that sound good, but have little substance.

Like the effort to memorialize Dr. King in the nation’s capitol with a piece of rock.

Many are angered and many more will be angered that I dare to oppose my beloved fraternity, and/or that I dare to oppose any effort supported by the masses of Negroes.

But the lesson I learned from Dr. King and from heroes like him, was to think for myself and to evaluate efforts based on the intrinsic goal and the intrinsic result.

The goal of this rock was misguided by people who have taken personal enrichment from the effort and the result is dubious given that empty impact the rock will have on people who cannot eat, and who have no place to live.

As a Black man in America, and as a brother of Dr. King’s fraternity, I hold his memory near and dear to my heart.  I try to live my life walking in the path he and other brave men and women blazed for me with their very lives.

I find it embarrassing that more than forty years after his death, the best that we can do is to erect a monument in his memory, while the memory of his dream is waking us up to a nightmare of broken promises.  We are waking up in a cold sweat to that same non-negotiable promissory note written to the sons and daughters of slavery in America by a nation that has never looked at us as full human beings.

Dr. King led a fight in the streets of America, forcing her to face her crimes against us in front of the world.  He was followed by millions of humans in this nation and around the globe.  He inspired us all to dream of a better world and to claim the right to have it.

A monument can not do that.

Forty years after The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated for daring to dream of a better world and for fighting for our right to have it, Black people have united to raise money for something that may make us feel good, but will do little to further the dream of the man himself.

My point?

Simply this:  We don’t need a symbol, we need something real.

Dr. King had a dream.

His monument may become our nightmare.

I believe it is a King-sized mistake.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.”  James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles this Spring and will be running all Summer. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

 

The Bridge: The King Dream–Forty Years Later

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , on January 18, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

More than forty years after evil men assassinated The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we celebrated another King Holiday Weekend in this nation.

Many celebrated, but most have no real reflection on the man and the legacy, nor on our own obligation to keep the dream alive and to make it come true.

Far too many Americans, and yes, that includes African Americans, are so focused on the wrong thing that we are more likely to see a nightmare come true than any dream.

For example, few of us have the testicular fortitude required to stand in the shoes of a man like Dr. King, yet gutless mouthy weaklings who sit in the comfort of the new century dare to cast aspersions on the man and the legacy.

I hear people talking about how King didn’t do much for us, but the reality is that we didn’t do much for a man who died for us. He fought for our right to go anywhere, not for the right to leave our own community and never look back. He got it started and many of us just left it alone.

On the other hand, far too many of us are holding on to nothing else but Dr. King’s memory, instead of creating our own dream to add to his. We live for a messiah and without an icon to hitch our dream to, we simply fall asleep.

And we fell deeply asleep right after the election of President Barack Obama, whom far too many expected to save the world, cure cancer and deliver Reparations to African descendants in America. All this without any action on our part–because we are still looking for a savior.

Without a savior to guide us and die for us, we are divided and confused and so we rally around things that sound good, but have little substance.

Take the effort to memorialize Dr. King in the nation’s capitol with a piece of rock. That effort is moving toward raising more than $100 million for a monument to The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m torn because on the one hand, there may be renewed interest in the struggle of the Sixties among our youth.  That is a good thing.

But on the other hand, there is still that gnawing voice within me that says “What about our most pressing and REAL causes?”

While Dr. King’s fraternity leads the charge to raise $100 million dollars, Morris Brown College struggles to exist and little Johnny from Compton, Chicago, Cleveland or Harlem can’t read because his school doesn’t have enough books.  Little Johnny can’t properly prepare for the colleges he can not afford and that may not admit him, because his school doesn’t have enough teachers who still care after their paychecks run out before the end of months filled with gang threats and violence in overcrowded, underfunded schools.

While money is being raised to create a physical memorial to one of this nation’s greatest men, young Black girls are opening their legs to disease and pregnancy and opening their veins to drugs and death in dark alleyways and in their parent’s living rooms.

While the national monument for our brother Dr. King is being pursued and making some of us feel that we are doing something worthwhile, the nation’s prisons are being filled with young Black men whose promise has evaporated.  The calls for their very few choices for uplift have been diminished by the strong call to succeed through sports, rap music with self-hating lyrics or drug dealing, while mean-spirited, ignorant people—Black and white—blame their conditions on them.

While the charge is being lead for a national monument to Dr. King, many of the civil rights he fought for are being eroded, and the stone will do nothing for the shameful voting rights violations made public by the 2000 presidential election and quickly made private after the election of President Obama.  Nor will it stop the attacks on Affirmative Action.

While national celebrities donate their time and money for a piece of stone in the nation’s capital, Blacks are still struggling, financially, for a piece of the rock in an economy that is in the toilet, flushing Blacks first and fastest out of downsizing companies.

While Dr. King’s legacy was being turned into symbolism, Blacks disproportionately placed their lives on the line in a series of wars with no truer purpose than oil, only to come home to a war on drugs in our communities.  The war in our communities is really a war on us, because the only casualties are Black men and women who never went to a cartel to import drugs, and who invented many things, but not the formula for crack cocaine.

There are those who say that the monument will give Dr. King his rightful place among other great men of this nation, and that the monument will remind us all that Dr. King’s dream is yet unfulfilled.

I believe the same things were said about making his birthday a national holiday.

While Dr. King’s birthday was being made a national holiday, the number of young Black men in prison was rising.

While the holiday was being adopted from state to state, the AIDS epidemic was running rampant through our communities, damaging more and more Blacks, while fingers point back and forth across the gender divide.

While national celebrities raised money and awareness for his birthday, police across the country were violating the rights of Blacks, setting the stage for nationally prominent crimes by police. Those crimes included the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles; the shooting of Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati; the broomstick sodomizing of Abner Luoima in New York, and the shooting, forty-one times, of Amadou D’iallo, also in New York.

While the nation began to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday in the same fashion as the day for presidents, many of us barbecued and relaxed, while losing more ground gained by his leadership.

As a Black man in America, and as a brother of Dr. King’s fraternity, I hold his memory near and dear to my heart.  I try to live my life walking in the path he and other brave men and women blazed for me with their very lives.

I find it embarrassing that more than forty years after his death, the best that we can do is to erect a monument in his memory, while the memory of his dream is waking us up to a nightmare of broken promises.  We are waking up in a cold sweat to that same non-negotiable promissory note written to the sons and daughters of slavery in America by a nation that has never looked at us as full human beings.

Dr. King led a fight in the streets of America, forcing her to face her crimes against us in front of the world.  He was followed by millions of humans in this nation and around the globe.  He inspired us all to dream of a better world and to claim the right to have it.

A monument can not do that.

Forty years after The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated for daring to dream of a better world and for fighting for our right to have it, Black people are uniting to raise money for something that may make us feel good, but will do little to further the dream of the man himself.

My point?

Simply this:  We don’t need a symbol, we need something real.

Dr. King had a dream.

It is up to us to make that dream come true, or at the very least, to dream our own dream.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames, relaunching on Sundays from 6-8pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

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