Alvin Ailey Dancers


15 January 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DR. M. L. KING : THE MAN...THE MYTH

* *This is a  re-posting  of the 1/14/12 recognition of the King Legacy. 

"The odd thing about assassins, Dr. King, is that they think they've killed you."    ~ Mohandas K Gandhi ~

January 15, 1929 ~ April 4, 1968

The above quote was from an illustration published in the Chicago Sun Times shortly after Dr. King's assassination in 1968 and it featured a drawing of Mohandas K. Gandhi extending his hand out in a conversation with the slain leader.  Before Gandhi's death he was living in a village quietly and was killed by an extremist  which catapulted him into the ages and made him an icon with a philosophy that has influenced great thinkers since his assassination in 1948.  One of those thinkers was Dr. King.

Although, this was an imagined event by the writer; how prophetic the message was for we have been celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King on a national level since 1986.  It was signed into law by President Reagan in 1983 and actually all the states came on board by the year 2000.  Local celebrations and commemorations, however, began for this courageous leader on an annual basis after his death which eventually  led to the holiday .  The latter, was the result of exceptional advocacy and lobbying by his wife and supporters.  We've just recently,  witnessed the dedication of the MLK monument in Washington, D.C. and of course there was controversy centered around that event.  There were words that were omitted on his memorial which infuriated a few  and the feeling that given his legacy; he would not have wanted that money spent on any monument  of his likeness.  He would have preferred that it be used to help the poor and marginalized groups which was his goal before he was struck down.  Many remember the poor people's march and tent city in D.C..


A memory that I have of the day Dr. King was assassinated remains as vivid in my mind as it did in 1968.  I was in college and at that time was beginning to become more revolutionary in my thinking about the civil rights movement.  Dr. King's last days were difficult and challenging for he was castigated by his comrades and followers for his stand against the war and many who marched with him were no longer willing to turn the other cheek.  My mother called and was crying and stated towards the end of the conversation that I probably didn't care about his death because I had become so "militant".  I tried to explain that I loved Dr. King but the fact that the power brokers could not accept and respect a man of peace meant possibly there were other paths worthy of consideration. 
 
 She wasn't hearing it and hung up stating that she and my father had a march to participate in the next day.  My mother and father..the most apolitical people I know were so moved to march.  Wow...the invisible and some would say sleeping masses were awakening as a result of his death.  Little did she know that I wept  along with the others as we sat in the lounge viewing the news footage of Dr. King's mountaintop speech the night before his death.

It was a pivotal point in my life and although Dr. King is associated with civil rights; I truly believed (at that time) he had graduated from the domestic stage to the global theater and he recognized that the struggle was actually human rights.  Vietnam Nam and other hot spots in the world fed that realization for him and upon that epiphany; he went the way of many freedom fighters.  He was silenced for a moment.  His message, however, rings true today as it did in the 60's.                                                         

                                  
There are a number of quotes by Dr. King but the following four support my basic viewpoint about him. I humbly write this tribute to a freedom fighter who so desperately wanted peace and harmony for all of humanity. 


"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

"The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." 
  
"I've come upon something that disturbs me deeply," "We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I've come to believe we're integrating into a burning house" . 


 Before I close this piece, it was believed by some during the late 60's that Dr. King was so enamored with integrating within the larger white society that the  racial component of his self-esteem and how he viewed his ethnic group in comparison were compromised.  It was further believed that his ability to relate to the nationalistic fervor of loving who you are was of minimal concern in the scheme of things.  This video that I viewed, initially, on the The African American Pundit Blog puts that myth to rest.






*Updated Related Links:

Uplifting Dr. King's Legacy
*"King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis,"  
*Historian Taylor Branch:  The Kennedys' Aversion to MLK's Struggle 
*Civil Rights Pioneer, Gloria Richardson: The Struggle of Women in the Movement 
*MLK's 'Dream'  Struggle Contines 50 Years After the March on Washington 

6 comments:

blacknouveauwoman said...

He was a valiant man. The work he did for humanity while he was on earth was not in vain. While some may not agree with his push for integration, which he later revealed that he believed he has lead his people into a burning house, he stood strong at a time when he was called. Let us all have such strength--when we are called--will we go forth. Then the question becomes--how will we go forth? I will to go forth and finish strong and well, standing for what I believe!

Coco Rivers said...

Hi Carolyn,

I've sat at my mother's knee and asked her about what it was like to be part of the generation who came up under MLK and Malcolm X. I'm sorry to say that she wasn't really "present" and so didn't have much to relay.

I view men like MLK, Ganhdi and Malcolm X as giants in the earth. Still, at 44, I am deeply humbled by their spiritual power and conviction. I wish for a leader with but a tenth of their power to step forward into the void they left. Their message, as you so aptly stated, will forever resonate and hopefully be striven towards.

Thank you for this wonderful post.

Carolyn said...

Appreciate your comment and as always thanks for stopping by. :-)

Desert said...

Hi Carolyn. A moving tribute in so many ways to a great man, a fighter for oppressed peoples everywhere.
A great loss to humanity.

Desert



Carolyn Moon said...

Hi Desert, appreciate your visit and I so agree with you. Peace...

lilacpr said...

Carolyn this is Desert, I started a new blog for my ramblings. The Google had all the pics of my grand kids and everything all over! Like stuff I don't think I'd ever even posted!!! I was so shocked when I saw them!

Anyway so I've been quite sick and still battling a smoke inhalation of sorts. Awful!

Hope the address posts so you can visit
*hugs*

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...