The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The Legacy of Dr. King

By Dexter Yarbrough. On a recent business trip to Atlanta, I decided to take my youngest daughter to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. We also visited the tomb of Dr. King and his wife, the house he grew up in and the old and new Ebenezer Baptist Church (he and his father preached at Ebenezer).

I have visited before and it had a profound effect upon me, but I wanted my daughter to have that experience. If you are ever in Atlanta, I suggest you check it out. It gives you a different perspective on black history, and yes, American history.

As we walked through the site and watched the videos of Dr. King speaking, blacks being water-hosed and the awful living conditions many were relegated to live in, I received a new perspective of what Dr. King tried to accomplish.

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Non-Violence?

When it came to music (specifically Rhythm and Blues), I always believed that you belonged to one of two camps - those that liked Michael Jackson and those that liked Prince. I was a Prince fan. I felt the same way when it came to Dr. King and Malcolm X and the fight for the rights of black people. Even though Malcolm X died just before I was born and Dr. King died while I was a toddler, I was a big supporter of Malcolm X.

I always felt that non-violence was for punks. I wasn't going to let some white man beat on me while I sang "We shall Overcome." I was going to peel his head back like an orange. Malcolm X dared a white man to hit him. If you knew anything about Malcolm, that would have been one dead "cracker," if you were to use his terminology for the times.

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Hypocrisy

Due to my renewed perspective, I believe that Dr. King could have fought with the best of them. He was no scared country preacher! If you really give it some thought, he had to be tough to face constant death threats and great bodily harm. No, it wasn't that he was afraid to fight back. What he wanted to do was point out the HYPOCRISY of a nation and many of its people that claim to believe in Christian ideals as well as the words of Jesus Christ.

Dr. King knew the history of America - a history not always predicated on peace and forgiveness. He knew that violence would only beget violence, especially when uppity Negroes got out of hand. So, as a tactic, he used non-violence to shame America into upholding the rights of its black citizens and ultimately, all citizens, explicitly stated in those documents that true Americans honor and cherish.

Dr. King wanted the world to see these words - "We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..." - against the actions of people that play lip service to the words.

Yes. He wanted the world to compare these words with the actions or non-action of many of the American people as well as their government. Abraham Lincoln wanted to preserve the union at all costs. So did Dr. King. Between Dr. King, Malcolm X and a few others, their words alone could have released blacks to unleash decades of unrest and harsh treatment in many violent ways. Poor whites, Latinos and American Indians most likely would have been great allies. Again, Dr. King knew this and America should be happy that he chose the approach that he did.

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What About Today?

Would Dr. King be happy with the conditions in America if he were still alive? Absolutely not! He would not be happy with the glorification of violent rap music. He would not be happy with the drug culture in many poorer black communities. And he would not be happy with the violence in black communities.

He would also point out that overt racism has been replaced with covert racism in subliminal messages via the media, public lynchings of black men via journalistic attacks, discrimination in employment offices and prejudice in banking loans for housing and small businesses.

The sit-ins and marches were never only about the right to sit next to whites on a bus or to sit on the same toilets. It was about gaining political, educational and economic equality. It was and still is about opening the eyes of those that claim to love Jesus and live by Christian ideals, yet "worship" in segregated churches. I think God has made it quite clear what is acceptable and what is not; heaven will not be "separate but equal." Perhaps hell will for those enticed by its accommodations.

What About Obama?

Dr. King was never one to be at a loss for words. He was never one not to speak his mind. He told it like it was despite the ramifications. He didn't die because of civil rights. He died because he spoke out against the Vietnam War. He died because Americans of all colors were being used as pawns in a game at the expense of patriotism.

Dr. King would have been proud of Thurgood Marshall. He would have been just as proud of Clarence Thomas. He would have been proud to see Barack Obama as President. But today, I think he would chastise him for promising change and delivering the same. He would chastise the President for forgetting about the black community while black unemployment is near 30% in some areas. He would spank the President for Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. And Dr. King would grab Obama's throat while letting him know that black middle class gains over 40 years have nearly been wiped out since he was President, while acknowledging that his predecessor helped get to this point.

Dr. King would call out the Democrats for lying to black people since Lyndon B. Johnson was President. He would point out how blacks were doing better before they joined the Democrats in mass droves. And he would remind the Republicans of their proud history of helping blacks during the Reconstruction and on Civil Rights Bills as well as not letting them forget that they accepted racist southern Democrats into the GOP for political expediency. He would challenge the Republicans for abandoning blacks and being aloof, aloft and elitists. He would not like the empty words recalling his life and the "...judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character" dribble that is espoused during his birthday celebrations around the nation.

I believe that Dr. King would agree that President Obama is A fulfillment of his dream, not THE fulfillment of it.

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Dr. King Quotes

"A man can't ride your back unless it's bent."

"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."

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

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

"I want to be the white man's brother, not his brother-in-law."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

The Legacy?

While I was a fan of Prince, I recall a song by Michael Jackson called "Man in the Mirror."

"I'm Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right..."

The legacy of Dr. King rests with all people that truly live the principles of truth and justice and equality for all, not for those who play lip service to these ideals. So many great men and women have been killed or isolated because we allow the evil to rule the day instead of goodwill, citizenship and honorable actions to those that may be different from us in some way.

I am thrilled that my trip to Atlanta enlightened my perspective on this great man even further. Now my own daughter has the opportunity to move forward knowing that he dedicated his life to the promise of a new day. Dr. King looked in the mirror everyday. He wasn't perfect, but neither are you.

The question is will his legacy live on in spirit only or will it be truly returned to an active practice? Are you willing to look at the man/woman in the mirror? Will you change your ways?

Dexter Yarbrough - Copyright 2011

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Comments 58 comments

junko profile image

junko 5 years ago

Dexter, Every decade of life brings about changes in a few heart felt truths and beliefs. Time and experience can change your mind and what you know is the truth. I'm sure your opinion of the first Black President will also change as you experience more time. Today and now I will vote up & useful


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Well Done, and thanks for the reminder.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Junko! And thanks for the votes. I voted for President Obama and truly have hope that things will change - soon. As for now, I am disappointed in his policies and would not vote for him again. But I still have hope, and you may prove to be right!


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Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, FitnezzJim! I appreciate your kind words!


Sunnie Day 5 years ago

Hi Dexter, I think many were so excited that we had our first black president..I know I was..It was such a turning point for our nation..but like you, myself and many have been let down but it will not be the first time a president did not follow through or has let us down..I believe the color of his skin does not dictate his actions nor his role as president..I would love for things to change too. Should someone like Martin Luthor King run I would be the first in line to vote for him..he moved a nation like no other and we are still talking about him..

God Bless him and great man he was,

Thanks for a great hub,

Sunnie


thooghun profile image

thooghun 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

A fascinating read Dexter, I've always enjoyed your hubs. I also found it interestingly provocative at times (in a good way).


Wendy S. Wilmoth profile image

Wendy S. Wilmoth 5 years ago from Kansas

Great essay and photos of my hometown. We need more well-written articles like this on Hubpages, no matter the viewpoint. Voted up!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Sunnie! Thanks for your wonderful comments. Agreed! Thank you so much!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Thooghun! Thank you so much. I REALLY appreciate your kind remarks!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Wendy! Thanks for the wonderful comments and the follow. I have returned the honor. Your hometown and state are beautiful! Thank you so much!


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

A beautifully written and I believe, heartfelt, tribute to an extraordinary man, Dr. Martin Luther King. Your description of how King might greet Obama was cogent and realistic. I agree with your assessment. Voted up.


Lesleysherwood 5 years ago

Such an interesting and insightful hub. Im not well read on American politics hence I found this to be very helpful. Vote UP Im a big fan of Michael and its sooooo true regarding the 'man in the mirror. thanks Dexter


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, DRBJ! I appreciate your comments. I believe that Dr. King would challenge the present administration.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Lesley! Thank you so much!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

Hi Dexter while I'm not American as you know, I do know that the legacy that both Dr. King and Malcomn X left affected blacks every where especially here in Jamaica where our own Marcus Mosiah Garvey came from. He would be proud of our Leaders here either, where it seem personal gain is more important that the people.

Well written article, and as you pointed out and I must agree that Dr. King was not afraid, but his message warranted him not retaliating in the face of violence and threats.


Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Fascinating stuff, Dex. I agree with your thoughts that he might consider Obama to be "partly" a fulfillment of the dream. This one deserves a HUGE vote up.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Thank you so much, Cardisa. I have learned a great deal from the teachings and actions of Marcus Garvey. I totally agree with your assessment about Dr. King and Malcolm X.


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Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Cloverleaf! Thank you so much. I think Dr. King would be "partly" proud.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Your assessment of Dr. King is mine as well. I'm reminded how much courage he had in times when people hated others because of skin color. I think he would be proud of President Obama. The President tries to do the will of the people, only the greedy politicans ( Both sides ) stand in his way. When i think of DR. King today, and listen to him preach, i have a renewed feeling of pride for him. I believe he knew he would be killed, yet his dedication was stronger than fear. I believe i can say the same about the President, there are many who have such vicious hate for him, makes me tremble inside. Thank you Dexter. Voted up and away.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Always Exploring! Dr. King was a really great man. He would be very proud of where we came from, yet would move us to strive forward. Thanks so much!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

This is a great read Dexter. You have the gift of writing spot on and I always enjoy your hubs .

Here's to many more to share.

Take care

Eiddwen.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

Martin Luther King was a giant among men. I think he would be very disappointed in this president right now and would have had the courage to speak out. Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 5 years ago from Massachusetts

A very well written hub and a fine tribute to a great man !

Vote up and beautiful !!!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Eiddwen! Thank you so much. I appreciate your comments.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Pop! I think he would be proud of his becoming President, but disappointed as to the way things are going at this point. Thanks so much!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Kashmir56! Thank you so much!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...another essential hub from you Sir Dexter , and as you know I brag about you to everyone, and yes here is another beautiful presentation by you worthy of being posted to my Facebook page with a direct link back here.

lake erie time 12:09pm

are you familiar with the famous song by U2 - Pride in the name of love


Sueswan 5 years ago

Great hub Dexter.

We are all responsible for making a difference.

Violence only breeds more violence.

Reminds me of the saying, " You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Mr. King had this quality.

Voted up, up and away.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Epi! It is always a pleasure when you visit! As always, I appreciate your kindness and support!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Sueswan! Excellent words and perspective. I so appreciate your comments, as always!


caltex profile image

caltex 5 years ago

What a very nice write up about Dr. King. Voted up!

I hate it when others misrepresent exactly what he stood for. Too bad he is no longer around.


feenix profile image

feenix 5 years ago

Hello, Dexter,

This is an excellent hub and an outstanding tribute to Dr. King.

On the day that MLK was assassinated (April 4, 1968), I was a 22-year-old lieutenant serving in Vietnam. Well, word came down from the "Supreme Command" that all bases were supposed to lower their flags to half mast; however, my base failed to follow that order.

Well, when I noticed that, I marched right to my division's headquarters and firmly asked why hadn't the order been followed.

To make a long story short, I ended up meeting with the Division Commander himself (a two-star general)and after I told him what was on my mind, he ordered all of the flags around the base to be lowered.

I have always stood for truth, just and the American way ;-)

But thank you very much for writing and publishing this very important and informative post. I voted it up and clicked on useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting -- because this article is all of that.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Caltex! Yes. I agree and thanks so much!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Feenix! Wow. See, your actions are what helped change this nation on a smaller yet important scale. Thank you so much!


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 5 years ago from London, UK

A great man. He paved the way for so much good. It's nice you took your daughter to the history site.

Thanks.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

I agree, Lady_E! He was a great man! Thanks so much!


SpanStar profile image

SpanStar 5 years ago

Doctor Martin L King was indeed a great man however I do not want us to forget there were a lot of great people during that time of Civil Rights struggles who suffered and gave their life so that we today would not have to continue the abuse, the injustice, the hate which ravished this country. We look to others like Mr. Martin L. King and Mr. Obama when we're talking about relationship yet and still I feel we the people need to do more and behave better ourselves "In Order To Form A More Perfect Union"


Binaya.Ghimire 5 years ago

I have so many times used his words: I have a dream. This statement means a lot to me. I have the video of this speech, which I love to watch frequently.

Thanks for this wonderful hub.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi SpanStar! I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for reading.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks Binaya! Thanks so much.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 5 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

I am absolutely speechless! I am all for civil rights and I agree, Dr. Martin Luther King would not have been happy with Obama. :( Writing about Malcolm X in college my professor was in awe and I believe also in shock because here was this young white woman who took the time to write about rights and explaining from my perspective what he did to also create change.

A person should be treated like a human being regardless of there race, sex or creed. The hub as so much substance and your words will forever be etched in my memory bank. :)


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi AEvans! Thank you so much for reading and the fan mail. I really appreciate your kind words and I am glad this hub touched you in a special way. Thanks, again!

I sure would have liked to read what you wrote about Malcolm X! :-)


AEvans profile image

AEvans 5 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

@ Dexter I will probably end up posting it on HP very soon.:) He did say something that I can still remember. He said black people were the original people of the world. He is right, look at Jesus his hair was of wool and his skin was bronze. Jesus was not white, blonde and blue-eyed. Who ever believes that needs to go back and read the Bible. People will say, " But Jesus was Jewish." Yes he was Jewish but that is a religion not a race of people. :)


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi AEvans! I would love to read it. Malcolm X was a very special man that had a life altering experience when he went to Mecca.

I agree with you on Jesus. He most likely had darker skin. I am very sure he did not look like the pictures I see in many churches today.

Thanks again for your nice comments and the wonderful email!


ubanichijioke profile image

ubanichijioke 5 years ago from Lagos

Oh what a sweet piece you ve penned down. I really have no word to describe it but 'awesome'


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks so much, Ubanichijioke! Dr. King was a wonderful man that left a great legacy for the world.


Natfittn 5 years ago

Excellent article on such a great man. I'm new here - just joined and hope to follow you.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Natfittn! Thank you so much and welcome to HubPages. Dr. King was a treasure amongst us. I look forward to reading your writings. I am sure you will find HP a pleasant experience! Thanks, again!


missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas

I love this hub! Thanks for including the quotes and hypocrisy sections.

What an incredible man MLK was and is. His legacy and his perseverance live on through so many people. He had a wonderful vision, perspective and an incredible passion. I remember choosing him as my topic for my H.S. senior research paper. I have a somewhat unique connection with MLK, I share his birthday, January 15th and my daughter shares his I Have A Dream speech anniversary August 28th.

Voted Up and Awesome! Great Hub Dex!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi Miss Olive! I am thrilled that you enjoyed this. It really came from the heart after visiting Atlanta with my daughter.

The birthday connection is awesome, huh? Thank you so much Miss Olive! Your vote and kind comments mean so much to me.


2besure profile image

2besure 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

You did a great job on this hub! I often wonder what Martin Luther King, Jr. would do today. I know he would be a force to be reckoned with. He would be outraged by the state of this country.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi 2besure! I totally agree. But I also think, had he lived, we may be in a different place. Maybe for the better. Thanks so much!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for this terrific article about a marvelous man. I think his mission, message, and methods were absolutely awesome. And your reportage here on this page is excellent. I appreciate the good read.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States Author

Hi James! Thank YOU! It is always and honor and pleasure to receive a visit from you. I am glad you enjoyed it!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Dr. King was the right man at the right time. I did not know very many Black people but ones I did know were not too much alike. There were not too many around in our neighborhood I never realized that Blacks were not allowed to live there. I lived in Minneapolis and we were not suppossed to be segregated. Segregation probably was going to end one way or another, King helped it to come to a more graceful end than it would have otherwise.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 4 years ago from United States Author

I agree, Dahoglund. He was the right man at the right time. Thanks!


nina64 profile image

nina64 4 years ago from chicago, Illinois

Hello Dexter Yarbrough, what an excellent hub!!!! You point out so many great things about Dr. King. I agree when you said that he would be disappointed about the outcome of so many issues that have taken a back seat in our communities. Dr. King's non violent approach had such a huge affect not just in the United States, but across the entire world. Today, many of our social activists echo the same sentiments of Dr. King, but they do not have the same enthusiasm and passion that he had back in the days of the civil rights movement. You are so right when you stated that our President Obama is a fulfillment of Dr. King's dream, not THE fulfillment of his dream. Voted up!!!!!!!


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 4 years ago from United States Author

Hi Nina! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! We certainly could use a "Dr. King" today! Thanks again and for voting up! Blessings!

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