Estimated reading time: 9 minute(s)
Originally published 1.19.09
Written by Jesse Muhammad
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated 10 years before I was born. However, as an elementary, middle and high school student, I learned about him once a year through plays, books, lectures and his ever-quoted â€œI Have a Dreamâ€ speech.
But like many of my classmates at that time, I did not truly understand Dr. King.
Something happened while I was attending Prairie View A&M University that gave me a deeper understanding of Dr. King, especially the post-â€œI Have a Dreamâ€ Dr. King. The phenomenal thing that happened was that I was introduced to the words of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on the life of Dr. King. On one of his tapes, I heard him talking about how Dr. King was more than a dreamer because â€œwhen one is dreaming they are still asleep.â€
Minister Farrakhan talked about a wide-awake Dr. King that rallied against the Vietnam War to call on America to take care of its poor at home; a Dr. King that delivered an anti-war speech titled â€œBreaking the Silenceâ€ in 1967; a Dr. King that said, â€œI’m tired of marching for something that should have been mine at birthâ€; a Dr. King that was plotted against by J. Edgar Hooverâ€™s FBI COINTELPRO from 1961 to 1968; the Dr. King that was lied on by the government; the Dr. King that met one-on-one with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1966; the Dr. King that America did not like.
This upset me because I wondered why we were not taught these things in school. And this cycle continues in 2009 with schools force-feeding our young people a watered-down Dr. King by omitting his post-â€œI Have a Dreamâ€ years.
â€œCelebratingâ€ Dr. King has even become a lucrative business for corporations and for those today who so-called praise him but never would have been with him post-â€œI Have a Dream.â€
Yet, if Dr. King were here today, his life would be on the line, not because of his efforts to integrate, but because he still would be considered an unsafe Black leader in the eyes of the government. The outgoing Bush Regime has prosecuted an unjust war in Iraq and if Dr. King was here today, he would be beating the drum of the anti-war movement and would not be silent.
Dr. King would be speaking out against the slaughter of the innocent Palestinians. He would have condemned the killing of Oscar Grant and the corruptness of police departments throughout the country. He also would be speaking out against Black on Black violence.
He would not encourage our young Black men to â€œbe what they could never beâ€ in the military. He would encourage Black men to do for themselves and to stop depending on the government for anything.
Dr. King would have condemned the Katrina response and the slothful rebuilding that is taking place in New Orleans. He would have marched for justice in Jena, Louisiana and would be advocating for the release of death row inmate Troy Davis.
Dr. King would have backed President-Elect Barack Obama and I believe would be sitting on the platform with him on January 20, 2009 at the Inauguration. But at the same time he would still be pressing our people to take responsibility for their community.
I believe he would want us to honor him, not with parades, floats, songs, dance, plays, speeches, and t-shirts, but by embracing and backing those in our midst today that are taking a stand against injustice.
The fight is not over.