Monday, January 16, 2006


Martin Luther King, Jr.

He stood before the country and spoke out about what was wrong. About how to fix it and how not to fix it.
Harassed by the Federal government, framed and defamed by the same (in one of this country‘s greatest abuses of power in its history), he continued to spread forth his message. Only death could still his lips, but that did not destroy his message.

Today, his “I Have a Dream” speech has been repeated and recalled (and it’s title exploited) countless times. Still, his dream marches on.

And yet, today it seems that few actually remember him at all. They know his name, his face, they can hear his voice saying that one well-remembered sentence, but many do not know his works or his words as they should. Rather, he is the face of the Civil Rights Movement, the man who started it all, a personification of it. But by large his person is forgotten as such.

Perhaps that is a tribute, in a way, that a man can leave behind so much of himself in a trend he began for America that he is that trend to America. That seems the poetic way to see it. The brutal view would be that his work has swallowed him up, and that his good deeds have done so much that people needn’t bother remembering him for who he was.

Today those who do bother to recall his teachings often criticize him, claiming his refusal to commit, promote, or permit violence was mere weakness. I will say once here for myself that to accomplish what he did without violence was so apart from weakness as to be great strength.

I ask, how could lasting progress possibly have been made with distrust sown against the side of social justice by a movement of violence?

Just as burningly, how could a government agency so vilify, so dedicate itself to removing one who speaks peace as the FBI did to King? When several leaders speak against wrong and one of them advocates non-violent means of undoing it, why target him?
Today, allegations of perversions and hypocrisy first sown by the Bureau are considered settled historic fact, due to corroborative testimony from seemingly independent sources. And more recently King has even been named a plagiarist.
Perhaps people don’t wish to address the person of Martin Luther King, because they are afraid of what awaits them there. Better to remember an admirable idea than a questionable personality.

Honestly, I love truth too much to advocate remembering the good about a man and pretending that’s all he was.
But perhaps history may still clear the man as well as the dream. I have hope still.

1 comment:

M. Randolph said...

Related, I seem to recall having read somewhere that today would be the first day that every county in the U.S. would officially celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday (technically the 15th, celebrated today so some people can off a day of work).

Not sure if it’s actually the case, but anyway.