Being just 29-years-old, 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 “I Have a Dream” 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-“I Have a Dream” 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 “when one is dreaming they are still asleep.”
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 “Breaking the Silence” in 1967; a Dr. King that said, “I'm tired of marching for something that should have been mine at birth”; a Dr. King that was plotted against by J. Edgar Hoover’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 2008 with schools force-feeding our young people a watered-down Dr. King by omitting his post-“I Have a Dream” years. “Celebrating” 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-“I Have a Dream.”
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 Bush Regime is prosecuting an unjust war in Iraq right now and, if Dr. King was here today, he would be beating the drum of the anti-war movement and would not be silent.
He would not encourage our young Black men to “be what they could never be” 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 marched for justice in Jena, Louisiana. And 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.