Friday, April 04, 2008

As I got ready to leave for work this morning, I noticed the Today show was doing a special edition of their show to "celebrate" the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's death. And for a split second I asked myself if I really wanted to address this in the blog. We talk about Dr. King so much during the month of January and February, and his assassination really isn't a pleasant memory to revisit given what it symbolized and the destruction of many major cities that followed. But despite its unpleasantness, and I am going to make two "points":

1) I remember being about 15 years old or so, and my father talked to me about Dr. King. He said to me that it is important that I understand that while Dr. King was talking about Civil Rights and equality, he was relatively harmless to the powers that be. Yes he was challenging the status quo in the country at the time, but his power seemed to be limited to just black folks at the time. But during the last two years of his life, he started taking on causes that cut across racial lines (although when you think about it, racial equality issues cut across racial lines too, but folks didn't see it that way I guess) like the Vietnam War, labor unions, and economic empowerment, and shortly thereafter, he was killed. My father told me that both black and white people need to remember to include that part of Dr. King's memory, and not just heap a bunch of I have a dream stuff on top of him.

2) From listening to folks who were old enough to really process the after effects of Dr. King's assassination, the biggest tragedy of all was the loss of hope. Dr. King had built such a following and he was generation such momentum with his movement, that when he was killed, people just gave up the fight. President and Robert Kennedy had been killed, Malcolm X had been killed, the end of the Vietnam War was nowhere in sight, and there just seemed to be a certain mood of gloom and doom. It reminds me of the loss of hope that some folks may feel if Obama doesn't get the Democratic Nomination, let alone the Presidential one. So many people are inspired by Obama and his message of change. So many people who normally sit on their ass and do nothing, are participating and giving their money and time. Even folks who can't stand Obama, are passionately supporting other candidates to keep his ass out of office. But if he falls short, will everyone lose hope? If he falls short, and there is some foul play involved a la the election of 2000, will folks riot? Will they give up and not vote again? Who and what will be the motivator and agent of change, if the Obama 2008 movement falls short?

I hate ending with rhetorical questions, but these were my thoughts this morning. I hope this is more thought provoking than it is depressing, but it doesn't feel like it right this minute.

2 comments:

Chubbs said...

i'm with you--and yes it is thought-provoking (and heavy as all get-out for a friday!). I know a lot of older folks who feel the same way your dad does.

It occurred to me while reading your post, I haven't watched the Today Show in 3 weeks, since I moved :-(

maxwellsmusze said...

the program this morning was pretty good and thought provoking. michael eric dyson made an appearance to talk about the anniversary of king's assasination and his new book April 4, 1968.

too bad the show took an awkward twist when it went from screaming girls & new kids on the block on the plaza to al roker standing outside the hotel where king was shot w/a solemn crowd and al sharpton there to commemorate the day. weird.