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View Diary: ...because conscience tells him it is right (106 comments)

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  •  King wouldn't just look with sadness (17+ / 0-)

    He'd have DONE something.

    As time has elapsed since his death, people tend to put him on a pedestal and look at him like a theorist, as opposed to someone who is urging action or doing things TODAY.  King was a man of action.  

    Search You Tube for "Eyes on the Prize" the PBS documentary on the Civil Rights Movement and you see how the man was intimately involved in city after city, state after state.  He didn't simply sit around and put together flowery, inspiring words.  He got in people's faces and was hated for it.

    Where would he start if he were dropped back into America now?  My guess is Detroit (or Lansing, MI) where housing and school segregation are worse than ever, black joblessness and imprisonment are disgraceful and the white state power structure refuses to do anything to alleviate it.

    A month before his death, he spoke at Grosse Pointe High, a very wealthy and very racist suburb of Detroit.  Here's the link to the speech.

    For me, this is probably his greatest speech. We use it in our American History class.  In this speech, with demonstrators screaming outside the building and the police chief sitting near him, King blows away all the excuses (still used today) for not addressing race (i.e. whites need more time, you can't change people's hearts, blacks must lift up by their own bootstraps).  Toward the end, there's this:

    Let me say finally, that in the midst of the hollering and in the midst of the discourtesy tonight, we got to come to see that however much we dislike it, the destinies of white and black America are tied together. Now the races don't understand this apparently. But our destinies are tied together. And somehow, we must all learn to live together as brothers in this country or we're all going to perish together as fools. Our destinies are tied together. Whether we like it or not culturally and otherwise, every white person is a little bit negro and every negro is a little bit white. Our language, our music, our material prosperity and even our food are an amalgam of black and white, so there can be no separate black path to power and fulfillment that does not intersect white routes and there can ultimately be no separate white path to power and fulfillment short of social disaster without recognizing the necessity of sharing that power with black aspirations  for freedom and human dignity. We must come to see. . .yes we do need each other, the black man needs the white man to save him from his fear and the white man needs the black man to free him from his guilt

    "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

    by gsbadj on Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 05:34:10 AM PST

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    •  Of course he did something (10+ / 0-)

      I think the sadness would come from the fact that others have not taken up the banner. If he were here, he would certainly be in places like Detroit where black males suffer from 50% unemployment.

      Dr. King was a profound leader, who galvanized action. His death left a void in compassionate leadership in our society. Why aren't there marches for jobs in places like Detroit? Why are not more speaking against inequities? Dr. King laid down the gauntlet for individuals to act of conscience and compassion. Yet, we lack leaders with the commitment, skill in rallying people to fight injustice, and finely honed skill to be the voice of conscience.

      Effective movements require charismatic leadership to succeed. It is not a question of putting Dr. King on a pedestal. I lament the lack of current leadership. Greed is easy to motivate as are fear and anger.  Compassion, sacrifice, and shared responsibility are much more difficult in a society where too many worship greed and self-centeredness.

      The uninsured keep dying. Death to AHIP!

      by DWG on Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 06:18:01 AM PST

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      •  Lots of reasons (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3goldens, elginblt

        Once political equality for blacks was (more or less) realized, whites could say, "That's enough! You got all the equality you need to succeed.  Now it's a question of doing it yourself."

        By the time Reagan came around, they'd flipped the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause (designed to protect minorities) on its head and convinced the SCOTUS that the Clause was somehow supposed to protect the majority white people.  The relative increase in prosperity of the 80's gave people of both races the idea that things were better than they were economically.  The GOP since then has subtly (and not-so-subtly) demonized all social programs that might help blacks, not to mention blacks generally.  Reagan insisted that blacks get rich on welfare.  Bush I raised the fears of black males getting out of prison and preying on white people.  Bush II points to "failing schools" (in urban black areas) as proof that the federal government needs to take over education entirely and bust all teachers unions (the last remaining powerful union in the country).   The Fox-led media harp on Dr. King's marital infidelity in order to distract you from his message and from the fact that economic inequality, based on race, is truly shameful in this country.  They've also demonized Revs. Jackson and Sharpton, potential successors to Dr. King, and reduced them, among many white people, to a parody.

        Is it done consciously, out of racism, or what?  I'd like to think not... but I'm not so sure.

        "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

        by gsbadj on Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 08:55:12 AM PST

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