Martin Luther King, Jr. - A Man and His Dream
January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968
"A Man Can't Ride Your Back Unless it's Bent". Martin Luther King, Jr.
What his dream looks like today...
While I sit and ponder on another third Monday in January . . a thought came to me; what does Martin L. King Jr.'s, dream look like in today's world? Personally, I feel we still have a long way to go. Reverend King was not only a non violent activist for civil rights, he also rallied against our nations involvement in Viet Nam and problems in the foreseeable future regarding the environment.
Dr. King will always be remembered for the ultimate sacrifice he gave in the fight for civil rights. Reverend King, and President Obama believe in the words spoken by President Abraham Lincoln during his annual message to Congress in 1862;
"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility."
I shutter while reading these words spoken so long ago, because they're still relevant for this generation. The speech is almost prophetic.
"If we forget history we are doomed to repeat it." No truer words were ever spoken. The history of the treatment of Blacks in this nation is a blackeye, and other than the slaughter, rape and theft of the native citizens of this land, can be counted as one of the darkest eras in our nation's past.
The first recorded trading of slaves for goods was in 1619, bay a Dutch ship in Jamestown, Virginia. It picked up tobacco and paid for the shipment with twenty African slaves. Twenty people torn away from home and kin, thrust into an unknown environment unable to communicate with their captors. By the 1700's enslaved blacks would comprise the majority of the workforce in some of the southern colonies. Eighty-one years of kidnapping, enslaving, torturing, raping and murdering of human beings.
In 1856, Dred Scott, a slave, sued for his freedom and lost. Why, because the Supreme Court ruled that the choice to own slaves was a personal one a private matter for each citizen to struggle with internally, and should not be interfered with by the state. The court declared Dred Scott therefore, chattel-human property, in possession of his owner, and an an owner had the right to do what he wanted with his assets.
During the Lincoln - Douglas debate, October 15, 1858; Abe Lincoln said: " it is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. It is the same spirit that says 'you toil and work and earn bread, and i"ll eat it.' No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation, and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle."
Slavery ended in 1865, but final legal abolishment was not performed until July 1, 1928. 1880 - 1920 - was the advent of the convict lease system. It's a loophole that was found in the 13th Amendment, which supposedly abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.
The Amendment states; "Neither slavery no involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction".
In 1883 Alabama 10% of its total revenue was derived from convict leasing, by 1898 it was 73% and all the convicts were Black. Convicts were leased to wealthy prominent Georgian families who worked them on railroads, and coal mines. State officials didn't empower overseers, so the working conditions, treatment and dispositions of the convicts were completely unknown. Mines and plantations that used this type of labor had secret graveyards containing bodies of prisoners who had been beaten / or tortured to death. Convicts would be made to fight each other to the death as sort of a sport for the guards and wardens. This and other genocidal crimes continued until July 1, 1928, when Herbert Hoover while vying for the White House decided to close the loophole.
In the years and decades to follow my people were hung from trees, bridges and telephone poles. Very often victims were tortured and mutilated before death, burned alive, castrated, and dismembered. Their teeth, fingers, ashes, clothes, and sexual organs were sold as keepsakes. What ghoulish plunder, what manner of being is this that calls itself human and Christian in the same breath?
Lynchings were viewed as a community event and sanctioned. Lynchings were frequently publicized well in advance, so people could dress in their Sunday best, traveling long distances just for the occasion. Clergymen and business leaders often participated, and few who participated in the actual deed were ever punished. Railroad companies ran special excursions trains to allow spectators to watch lynchings. Mobs would swell to 15,000 people and tickets were sold as if taking a human life was no more than a concert or spectator outing.
Yet on January 15, 1929 a child was born who would stand toe to toe with those who performed these acts of genocide / homicide, and would silently quote Poe's "Raven" nevermore. The child grew to become a man among men. A man of strength and character, that very few men possess then or now, conjoined with moral indignation.
A man of the cloth who knew he had God on his side, and could not sleep another night as long as there were people in this so called free country who were unfairly treated only because they exist. This man stood tall as children were being bombed by cowards dressed in pillow cases and sheets. These hoodlums who scurried in the shadows like rats to burn crosses and deliver drive by shootings of homes occupied by Blacks. No better than their gang banging counterparts today who commit the same genocide on their own.
Martin Luther King, Jr., campaigned for what he felt was right even with the threat of jail, bodily harm, to kin and friend. He and his faithful followers marched, together, black and white, common man and celebrities until Washington could bury their heads no longer. What made this man so special? He spilled no blood of any human, never shot anyone, armed or unarmed, turned the other cheek when struck. We give lip service to it, but he lived it ....what would Jesus do?
An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, and all those who followed and died for our cause are the reason we now have a man of color in the White House. The "white only" signs are physically gone, but still exist in the minds of racist.
I mentioned the stark true history of slavery in the paragraphs above, because the civil rights battle has become homogenized since King's death. He lead this non-violent battle not only for voting rights, or seat placements in buses and restaurants, but to put a stop to the wholesale slaughter of a people.
Well Dr. King, we have come a long way, and your dream is somewhat a reality, but I think you wanted mankind to live and love in peace. That, unfortunately will never happen in our lifetime, as long as there are those low individuals who rather spread hate. We will never experience true peace as long as twisted minds continue to teach that same hate to their young.
Its the nature of the beast call human. We that were placed above all animals by God, show no respect for life. Animals in the wild kill to survive we kill for no other reason than a difference in skin color, or wearing the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood.
We take two steps forward and five steps back, we have a Black man in the White House and nothing has really changed and nothing will change. As long as there are two humans left on this planet even then we will find something to hate about one another.
A man who won't die for something is not fit to live. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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