Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
For many, the ascension of Barack Obama was the realization of Martin Luther King, Jr's dream. In fact, many attempted to tell us that the very act of Barack Obama being elected President proved that racism no longer existed in America. That the so-called "race card" could no longer be played. As if by his inauguration alone, all of the inequalities and injustices rooted in racial divisions were magically erased. We can quickly call bullshiggity on that and address the bigger issue. Dr. King had a vision that went beyond the superficial and plumbed the depths of the very foundation that America was built on.
I implore every American, of all colors, to understand what Martin Luther King Jr was about the substance beyond the sound bites. He truly believed that fairness and equality for all races across all nations was possible and within the grasp of the coming generations. Yet he did not believe it could be done by words alone. His message was a call to action for continuous improvement.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent. ~MLK
Changing your twitter pic to a black fist rising or announcing to the world that a change is coming does nothing to actually effect change. For an interesting take on what MLK would say in the age of Twitter, check out this article by Baratunde Thurston.
I recall briefly dating a fellow we'll call Nathan right around the time of the presidential primaries. Nathan was a self-proclaimed Black Conservative Republican. What initially attracted me to him was his ability to speak on any topic eloquently. We agreed on nothing politically yet I found his intelligence compelling. Right until it became apparent to me (quickly) that he was full of hot air and little else. He talked a good game but when time came to back up his so-called beliefs with meaningful action, he fell quite short. King was flawed because of his indiscretions, he said. Obama was suspect because he smoked but he was backing him because he felt betrayed by Bush. I listened in disbelief and said, "Well what are you going to do?" After much cajoling, he finally signed up to be a precinct caption for Obama's campaign. He worked two events and nothing after. To my knowledge, he's done nary a thing since to promote the agenda he eloquently professed to believe in.
Nathan believed he was successful because of his own hard work only. He did not believe that all the footsteps tread by generations past had anything to his current success. He believed he personally owed no debt to Malcolm X or MLK because he would have risen to the top anyway. I began to give up on him short thereafter. I absolutely cannot abide successful black folks who truly believe that there is no more need to protest, speak out, take action. Folks who have "arrived" and don't recognize that there are others you left behind who need a hand up. That whole "I got mine, you gotta get your own" mentality falls extremely flat with me.
So on this day of remembrance and service, I ask that you really take a moment to figure out what you can do to improve the community. Mentor someone at work, mop of floor, feed a child, give some clothes away… Do something more than just dream. In the meantime, here was President Obama's speech (in two parts) at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church in D.C. Sunday morning: