Friday, January 16, 2009

Should We Celebrate Martin Luther King's Birthday?

Today, I read an article where the author said the celebration of Martin Luther King's Birthday reminded them of "the grim apparel of shackles and chains African Americans were once forced to wear...[and that] the national celebration of Dr. King's birth is a symbol of the continued bondage of African Americans."

Come to the light.

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons from that era is that we have choices, either to do great good or great harm. Martin Luther King was one of the greatest orators, philosophers, and leaders of the 20th Century--indeed a profit. Born in a time of great injustice, he chose to take the high road. His words and deeds moved Americans of all races, cultures, and religions to do something great: to stand up for the humanity of African-Americans, even if it cost them their lives. And for many it did.

With the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States; we enter the dawn of a new era. I think it important that we understand we do have choices about how we conduct ourselves during the course of our lives and that those CHOICES are what define us, both then and now.

The United States, its people, and its institutions have a long way to go. So far now, as a black man making the right choices in "this new era", I stand encouraged but not satisfied.


Anonymous said...

What we often forget is that MLK was a fighter for social justice for blacks, whites, Latino everyone. Racial justice as a a concentration is just what was presented to him. He started with and continually have remnants of economic social justice as his primary passion.

We do have a long way to go. I pray that we don't allow the celebratory nature of the even to override the striving we all have to take to truly be racially reconciled and just.

Iam Robert said...

blackwasp19: I didn’t know this. Like many, I felt the primary struggle during the Civil Rights movement was to get equal access: go to the same schools, churches, stores, etc. It’s good to know that what Dr. King was fighting for was more than that; he was fighting for us to be on an equal financial footing with the rest of America. And it makes sense that in a capitalistic nation, you must have money to be equal.

I think many of us were misguided about this. Just check out what a 2006 Ebony Magazine article had this to say: “Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young's words are at the heart of a new civil rights thrust toward economic equality. He and other observers note that economic gains for Blacks have not matched the civil rights movement's successes in other arenas since 1964. Nor have these successes eliminated a wealth gap between the nation's Blacks and Whites, which economist David Swinton estimates to be a staggering $600 billion-plus.”

Keep the good insights coming!