As I am sure you are aware, this is the weekend that the just completed
Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial was to open in Washington, but Hurricane Irene dashed those plans. Tonight I have Dr. King’s last speech, given in Memphis on behalf of the striking sanitation workers.
Of course you know that the next day, he was brutally taken from us by
an assassin’s bullet, cutting short a life that somehow managed to touch
Dr. King died and part of each of us died with him. We lost some of our humanity that day long ago in that southern town just as we were oh so far away across the seas in a small Asian country, sticking our noses in a place we had no business, bombing the crap out of yellow peoples, trying to bomb them back to the Stone Age, in a war that Dr. King came to oppose strongly, a stance which ending up costing him a lot of support in the white liberal community.
I can only say this about the man- he followed his principles of nonviolent protests all the way to the end of his life- in a nation gone crazy at that time- he
was a beacon for hope of a good change to come, one that would come from within, inside former slaves and slave owners, the kind of change that lasts, from the heart.
Dr. King above with Malcolm X, 1964. If we could only turn back the page……..under different circumstances, if these two
had joined in the struggle for basic human and economic rights……… if fate hadn’t had the cruel plans for them……..
I will never forget his speech where he taught the concept of different types of love, agape I believe he said, referring to love your neighbor, it opened my eyes
and finally I got it, what he was saying, and what religious figures like Christ
were referring to…..
Folks, I would like you to remember something tonight. Dr. King has been sanitized by the corporate media, maybe I am not making myself clear; his memory, his life, his sayings, have been boiled down to a few slogans, the memory of his life transformed into memories as of an old relative who lived long ago, harmless, everybody has one in their family.
The real Dr. King can not be reduced to the lowest common denominator like that, nor can he just be a sound bite. He didn’t just have a dream, and he know way, no how, never sold out to anyone or anybody- nobody owned him, and nobody could stop him from telling things as he saw them.
Except his killer.
My most fervent wish tonight is that somewhere out there, maybe he or she is but a child, looking out on this world with innocence and with wide eyes, someone that is going to grow up learning about Dr. King and others who gave their all for their fellow man, and this child will grow up and take up the cloak
of struggle, and the staff, and continue on in the footsteps of those who went before, and will lead us all to that mountaintop and the promised land.
That is my wish this night.