This Yahoo! article I read today gave me a few thoughts…..first about a book (a must read) I read a couple/three months back called How Nonviolence Protects the State. (Thanks Dirty….and yes, lil bro…it’s on the way.)
My other thoughts were of children and school. When I was a child I was told about how great he was and how he was basically the driving reason that black people had a particular month to be happy about.
Ok, that was sarcastic…..but in seriousness, his striving for gaining rights for people of all color was so…uplifting. Typical of a lot of black children, I grew up without a father…a positive black MALE role model….except for the athletes and entertainers I saw on TV…..Malcolm X….and Dr. King. King was the peacemaker…..the one willing to go to jail for the cause, which was all well and good when you’re a kid. They show you the I Have A Dream speech….the March on Washington….the sit-ins.
But most people don’t know that King, right before his death, was becoming more militant in philosophy. Even I didn’t know it, until I started on this black history reading bonanza back in 2004. (I had a need to understand more about my roots at that time…and still do.) When you’re a kid, that’s something you never heard. I never heard it from my mom (mainly because she was a child herself.) And most of my relatives were just trying to get by in East Texas, back in the day…..doing whatever they were doing. In school, they say that Malcolm was the militant one…neverminding that King himself had gone in that direction. It makes me think now – What exactly is young America learning about black history, and are they told that it’s, in fact, AMERICAN history?
Are they learning that George Washington Carver and Frederick Douglass belong with Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Graham Bell?
Are they still teaching it as a SEPARATE chapter?
What’s still being left out?
As the article (and the book a noted) correctly points out, King is remembered only as it fits a particular agenda – and not King, as the complete person, with changing philosophies….even the flaws that every man and woman carry. He’s been flipped into this Jesus-fied caricature of himself – Civil liberty personified……with people invoking his name whenever they want to pull the equality card.
In 1968, people hated that man. Hated him for what he stood for….and this is something you’re never taught in school. They play his existence up as an all-loved figure, when in actuality, it was the complete opposite. You’re never taught that doing the right things in life will bring hatred upon your head at times…until later in life…or on old 80’s TV shows.
Here we are 40 years later. Where are we? What’s different in 2008? Racism and classism is still in full force, just a lot more opaque…yet, still transparent in other ways (another post altogether). Why are we continuing to live on with his legacy frozen in time and never built upon?
As I said, black history is American history……why aren’t we, Americans of ALL colors, marching the message (or hell, ANY message) forward?