The Lady Speaks

The Promised Land

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

This speech was delivered the night before his assassination. The power of it was, and remains, incredible. Each time I’ve heard it, I feel a thrill in my heart – and a terrible chill down my spine. As others have wondered, I too wonder if he didn’t know or have some inkling of what was to come.

Perhaps he knew – not that he would die very soon – but that his power, the power of his words and his actions, the power and strength of the movement as a whole, was becoming too great for those who opposed equality, and so – eventually – they would find a way and he was reconciled to that.

Perhaps he was simply at peace with death, because death could not hurt him; it could only unite him with the Lord he served.

And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

 

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January 21, 2008 Posted by | America, Equality, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, World Peace | 4 Comments

When Silence is Betrayal

On April 4, 1967, one year before his death, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out against the war in Vietnam.

One of his reasons for speaking out was the horrible irony of a nation that segregated whites and blacks at home, but integrated them when it came to killing:

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.  [my emphasis]

His speech, entitled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” remains one of his least known speeches, though it is gaining more visibility as the war in Iraq drags on, especially now that it’s been added to YouTube.

 

 

January 21, 2008 Posted by | America, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Uncategorized, World Peace | Leave a comment

Honor the Man, Fulfill The Dream

I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that believed in equality for all people long before it was socially acceptable.

My grandmother treated everyone as equals far before it was the right thing in the eyes of society or the law. In fact, in her early years, that was considered the wrong thing to do, even the “un-Christian” thing, because segregation and oppression of other races was “God’s will” for the white “superior” race.

My mother was thirteen when Dr. King stood at the Lincoln Memorial and told the world about his dream, almost eighteen when he was killed in April 1968. She listened to his words, felt their impact all the way to her soul as a result of her mother’s example, and over the years has tried with every fiber of her being to help that dream become reality.

Some people grew up with pictures of Jesus or the saints or a president in their living rooms; we had Dr. King.

I had memorized Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech by the time I was nine. (And trust me, you ain’t seen nothing till you’ve seen a skinny little white girl from the rural farm country of WhiteBread Center, PA giving Dr. King’s speech to an attentive audience of dogs and younger siblings. Complete with Dr. King’s dramatic oration.)

Today, I believe we are striving ever closer to the day when that dream is a reality. But it is not here, and it won’t be until each of us plays our part.

We must teach and inform and – most importantly – act on our belief that each and everyone of us is an equal member of the human race regardless of our color, our gender, our orientation, our ethnic background, our religious persuasions, our nationalities, or any of the millions of other ways in which every human being is different from every other.

The dream can be reality, but only when all of the people in all of the lands all over this earth learn one thing: there is no “us and them.”

There is only “we.”

 

January 21, 2008 Posted by | America, Family, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, World Peace | 1 Comment