Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happy 84th Birthday Dr. King!

Today would have been the 84th birthday of the Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. has an assassin's bullet not violently taken him away from us in 1968.

Interesting to note that as we approach the latest King Day holiday next Monday, we will see the second term inauguration of our nation's first African-American president.  We will also continue to observe post Sandy Hook massacre an extremely contentious debate over sensible gun control regulation that the NRA and other gun groups have vigorously opposed.

Renee of Womanist Musings and I were having a conversation last week as to what would have happened had Dr King and Malcolm X both been around past April 4, 1968 to now.

Since today is Dr. King's actual birthday I'm going to focus on the Dr King end of our conversation, but we came to the consensus he would have continued to criticize the Vietnam War until the troops came home.  He would have decried the Kent State shootings, Watergate, been a critic of the attacks on unions, the growing inequailty in America between the superrich and the poor  the rising tide of gun violence, the mass shootings and the coarsening of our culture.. 

I believe Dr King would have been a strident critic of apartheid in South Africa and called for the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.   He would have continued his role of nonpartisan criticism of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, GW Bush and Obama when they failed on human rights issues and other important issues of the time and praised them when they did something right.. 

And speaking of presidents, I believe he would have been exceedingly proud as many African-Americans are that Barack Obama is in the White House. 

But you can bet Dr King would have been pushing him like he did LBJ to do better every chance he got.to be the transfomative president he can be.

Based on his words about voting, he would have also been a harsh and unrelenting critic of the GOP's reprehensible attempts to suppress our voting rights and the hypocrites of the Religious Right and in Dr King's words their  'Dry as Dust religion'.

And based on the words of his wife Coretta and his longtime friendship with Bayard Rustin, I believe he would have been a supporter of the LGBT rights movement because as he once said, 'injustce anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere'.

But unfortunately he is not here to be our drum major for justice and the moral compass for our people and our nation. The United States and the world are both poorer for that.  

We have the federal holiday to contemplate what he meant to this country and the world.   A monument of Dr. King that has already drawn over half a million visitors from around the world now majestically stands on the west bank of the Tidal Basin in Washington DC near the FDR and Lincoln Memorials that I have had the pleasure of visiting and seeing lit up at night.  .

There's not a lot lately I agree with Tavis Smiley on, but there is one comment he made said several years ago that I heartily concur with that I'm going to paraphrase.  

Dr. King was the greatest American our people have yet produced, and he is sorely missed.  

Happy birthday Dr. King.

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