Dr. King’s Legacy Re-Visited

King and Racism


Yes, another Tuesday, I am motivated to write on Dr. King’s embracing of the Civil Rights Movement and catapulting it forward … and dying for it!  Can you say “commitment”?  This for me is beyond being a “humanitarian”.  His behavior … to me … represents a true martyr … a hero … a saint … or as close to it as is humanly possible!!  Whenever I think about his commitment to the cause … this drum major for justice …  I can not think of anyone today that I know … that would do what Dr. King did … fifty years ago … not even me … not that I am so special.

 I don’t think I could do it … knowing … and I believe he knew … that he would be killed one day!!  “The System” … that “Invisible Hand”, so to speak, has to be concerned with a man who can rally so many people, of diverse backgrounds … socially, economically … and I’d be willing to bet, even politically (Dem or. Repubs) … and unite them and show the common injustices in the system .. including women’s rights … (those are civil rights, too!).  To think it all stemmed from this man and his followers to unite and march while individuals “sanctioned” by the law (police officials in Alabama) … though the laws were racist (no right to vote for one group of people!!!) as well as hostile individuals leading “nazi”- like groups threatened and undoubtedly TOOK other people’s lives!  These “people” didn’t care that they had violated someone’s civil rights … to demonstrate and march in THIS country … folks ….  This was 50 years ago, y’all … Modern /Contemporary history!!!  Someone from one part of society felt that he and she … and even their children … could wage personal war against a person of another race because  he wants the “right to vote”?!?  For me, that doesn’t even sound right … that was when I was 10!!!  I remembered seeing this stuff on the television news and newspapers … but I was a kid being raised in a suburb of New York City … while not rich … I knew what being well-to-do looked like.  I had and still have friends who are well-to-do/ well off … for one reason or another.  They’ve even shared with me … so I know what it looked like … somewhat what it felt like … but for me it was always temporary.  But I was cool!  I don’t like being flashy or showy but I do like nice things … a nice car and a nice laptop … not necessarily new .. but nice!
So this man was uniting ALL of us … well … maybe I should say … “many” of us who had that common bond sharing a desire to declare unequal some of the laws and treatment of people in THIS society, which bragged to the world about the importance of “democracy”!  And then, the many of “us” not only declared the inequalities, but got directly involved by marching and protesting peacefully … sacrificing their very lives in the face of some seriously sick and barbaric treatment by “people” they didn’t even know … nor had done ANYTHING to their attackers … and ONLY wanted the right to vote … this was fifty years ago … and I was ten ….  And this was in some places or towns, cities and sanctioned by some local government of “The South”!  This is why they marched.  It takes an intelligent and caring human being to acknowledge that peaceful protests and non-violence was the best way to deal with a “machine” that had enough weapons to literally exterminate African Americans in this country!!  This was a brilliant and brave man – this drum major for justice!!  This is why he was killed!  This was his true legacy.
But through the power of the vote, an African American president was elected in this country … the very same country that forbade certain sectors of this society to vote, and hampered the progress of overturning “unjust laws” like “grandfather clauses” and tests as evidenced by the character that Oprah Winfrey played in the movie “Selma” as she was told to name the over 100 judges in Alabama!  That was fifty years ago … and this is today.  Again, I thank you, Dr. King, for your selfless sacrifice to hone in on the necessity of the right of ALL who live in a democratic country like “ours” to vote.  “Free at last, free at last!  Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!”
John I. Cook, Director

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