Within the last few months, I have been moving further from
Malcolm and closer to Martin.
Malcolm naturally appealed to me. For us, in the early 90's, witnessing
the vestiges of the 80's crack era, the notion of violence as a
method of obtaining and retaining power made sense.
In that era, once caring fathers became crack zombies. My own dad
transformed in front of our very eyes. Pre-Crack, he was a man
who on Thursday broiled steaks, baked potatoes, and
dropped live lobsters in boiling hot water (much to my
curiosity and horror) for our weekly pre-Cosby Show meal.
Post-Crack, he turned into someone who disappeared
on pay day Friday's taking the rent money, the light money,
the money from the safe at his job and pretty much anything
else that wasn't nailed down to feed his jones.
My brother was impacted as well. Pre-crack here was the guy
who bought me my first Mantronix, LL Cool J and Beastie Boys
tapes and took me on long adventurous bike rides that ended
with getting two scoops of mint chip ice cream. Post-Crack
he, like so many Black teenagers became baby faced D
boys with some big old guns.
Oh, the guns. They were everywhere. As was murder.
I think that the fact that everyone had a gun, Malcolm strapped
with the gat at the at the door, appealed to me.
Crack made the threat of violence hypernormal.
Yet, it was few months ago, around December 2007 that something
began to change in me.
I told Birkhold that I been chatting with Barry Michael Cooper (BMC),
who wrote The Village Voice piece that New Jack City was
Birkhold suggested that I get the original piece, which I did,
and that was the beginning of seeing both Malcolm and Martin
in a new light.
In the piece BMC made the connection between the violence
occurring in the hood in '88 to the race riots and state sanctioned
national guard murders in the 'hood circa '66, '67 and '68.
The rationale is that you can't have peace in crack laced
'88 with so much blood shed in during the race riots of
'66, '67, '68.
The fate of one precludes the fate of the other.
The seeds of violence were sewn.
We have been taught that Martin is soft
and that Malcolm was the truth. This distinction deserves
closer look. In many ways Martin had the heart of 2Pac,
the patience of Ghandi and the strategic ability of Sojourner
Before his death he was transforming in front of our
very eyes and his commitment to social justice entailed
that we transform along with him.
At the time of his death, Dr. King was getting ready to
protest in Washington for the purposes of abolishing
the Black White and Brown poverty in America.
The only thing more brave than the blood pumping in Malcolm's heart
King called his crusade the Poor People's Campaign. He planned to march on Washington with a multiracial army of poor people who would build shantytowns at the Lincoln Memorial -- and paralyze the nation's capital if they had to.
The campaign's goal: force the federal government to withdraw funding for the Vietnam War and commit instead to abolishing poverty.
when he was at the door with the gat, was the air moving in Martins
lungs when he said,
"It didn't cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters ... but now we are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation spending billions of dollars and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power," King said during a trip to Mississippi in February 1968.
I have begun to rethink both the effectiveness and limitations of violence, civil disobedience. I am not one hundred percent sold on either side.
But I am rethinking and asking questions and that is what
I can do today. Think about this,
The Poor People's Campaign has faded from historical memory. It remains the most overlooked part of King's legacy, Wilkins said.So on the anniversary of his death, I am reflective on his legacy
It remains in the shadows because King rewrote the traditional civil rights script, Wilkins said. As long as he fed Americans images of bigoted Southern sheriffs clubbing demonstrators, people could remain comfortable. But the Poor People's Campaign gave Americans a new cast of villains: themselves. Americans didn't want to look at the face of poverty, but King was going to force them, he said.
and our future as well. I debated on writing this post and making
it as personal as it is.
Then I came across an account by Ron Klain
in the Times. RFK was in Indiana the day King was murdered and
was scheduled to speak to a large group of Black folks.
Rejecting the advice of many around him, Kennedy continued toward the inner-city playground where he was to give his speech, undeterred by a police warning that they could not provide him with protection if things got out of control.
There, a raucous, happy crowd — unaware of the tragedy in Memphis — waited for the candidate to arrive. Kennedy informed the gathering of King’s death, and an audible wail of agony rose from the crowd. (You can see a home movie of the dramatic event by clicking here.) He then delivered, extemporaneously, one of the great speeches in American history. Some of the words from that speech are etched near Robert Kennedy’s grave site at Arlington National Cemetery; they still speak to us today:
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.Riots, fires and violence broke out in more than 100 cities in the United States that night — but not in Indianapolis.
When I read that. I knew this post had to be personal or I would
risk not resonating with you.
Today, in furtherance of Kings Dream I am going to write
a letter to the DA in Alabama who has decided to imprison pregnant
women who are addicted meth, rather than treat them like the addicts
they are and provide them with drug rehabilitation, intervention
What, if anything, are you going to do in furtherance of MLK's Dream?
What would you like to do if you could?
What would you like to see?
I look forward to your thoughts and reactions to this
rather vulnerable, super in the gristle of my life post.