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Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - in praise of a great man!

"And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Baptist Minister, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a giant of a man in a time when it took giants to break the hold of Jim Crow laws in the segregated South.   He was a man who sought to bring people of all colors and backgrounds together to join in the American Dream.   I will salute him now and castigate those who misuse his legacy.   I do wish that the sniper's bullets of the 1960's had missed their mark.  The best of the Democrats (JFK and RFK) were killed off, and the party veered off to the left beginning with the incompetent blundering of Lyndon Baines Johnson.   When Dr. King was murdered, his legacy became so twisted that he himself would barely recognize the miscreants who claim to take his place.  Personally I believe that the bullets that took out JFK and MLK led to the degradation of American society as there were no statesmen worthy of taking their places in the world.  The Great Society was actually the plan to chain the black poor to their poverty, in my opinion. 

I no longer know many people of color personally because the areas nearby where there are a lot of people of color are areas controlled by Democratic bosses and rife with crime and corruption.   So I moved out to the country away from crime and urban blight.   It is incredibly frustrating to live in a city where the Democratic Machine automatically elects the officials, sign up all their relatives to positions in the city and county government, many of whom actually don't do anything but get a paycheck.   We are still in the county and hoping that perhaps that government can be fixed.   But Chicago-style political machines in areas to the North have complete domination of the government.   The result?  Northwest Indiana cities dominated by Democrats are literally falling apart.  Gary is about to declare bankruptcy as a municipality.   East Chicago is struggling.  r.

So now I only know a few black/brown people personally.  One of them just took off for a mission trip but his place in our youth group was taken by a man born in Africa who now lives nearby and has become a church member here.   In all cases they are just like everyone else, except for Sanusi, who was born in Africa and has had a few cultural differences to overcome and some insights to share.

My new favorite Sanusi story is that, when he and his wife first moved to States, he saw a child acting up on the playground and immediately grabbed the boy and spanked him!  His wife, Dee, had to stop him and explain that in the USA nobody spanks another person's child.   Sanusi was a bit surprised, since in his community in Africa all the adults took responsibility for all of the children.   Beginning this coming week, Sanusi and his wife will be working in the youth group with us.   So three of our youth workers left to go on a mission trip for eleven months and already two people have stepped in to help take their places.   Sanusi will not be spanking anyone for sure!  But it is going to be instructive listening to him compare and contrast the cultural differences between his upbringing and the USA he thought existed versus the one in which he now lives.   

Thankfully this area of the county has attracted a few non-white families recently so that we are not any longer a whitebread region.   We now have a SuperMercado!   We have kids with all sorts of backgrounds in our youth group now.    We have a Mexican restaurant run and owned by US citizens of Mexican heritage in the town limits and the food is great there.  

Did you know that the courageous and effective work of Martin Luther King, Jr. is now honored by a national holiday, the third Monday of January every year (because his birthday was January 15)?   Today is a national holiday, acknowledged by the Federal Government and schools and many businesses and individuals, including myself.   Martin Luther King, Jr. was doing most of his work in the South in spite of numerous threats on his life.  He knew that his ministry might lead to assassination attempts and he did not stop.  We should be inspired by his personal courage.  

I think that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be frustrated by the way his ministry and his mission has been twisted.   He was a Republican and depended upon Republican support to end the Jim Crow laws of the South that had been established with the blessing of a Democratic President, Woodrow Wilson and the supporters of Eugenics, who maintained that Darwinian evolution was a fact and that therefore the Negro was an inferior being.    He would likely be amazed to discover that the party that fought so hard to stop him, the Democrats, had been adopted as the party of choice of the majority of his fellow people of color.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian who sought to bring people together and give downtrodden people a chance to succeed.   He would probably be appalled at the large numbers of poor people who are living on subsistence checks provided by the government as de facto servants, being paid to not work and have children out of wedlock.   He would see the school systems of the inner cities and very likely be brought to tears.  The poor and undereducated in this country have been successfully herded into inner cities where the school systems are inadequate, the family unit is under full frontal assault and gangs, drugs and a life of crime is glorified and popularized by rappers living in mansions and "living large."

I wonder what Dr. King would be saying about illegal immigration?   Every illegal immigrant who comes to this country and takes a job, takes it from an American citizen who needs one.   I cannot imagine that he would approve.  

Martin Luther King, Jr. would be even now joining the fight against abortion.   As a Christian, he would be against the murder of babies.   Furthermore, he would see that the majority of abortion mills are located close to the areas where the poor live, and the poor are far too often people of color.  The push for abortion was led by Eugenicists who saw it as a way to "control" the black/brown/poor population of America.
 
I suspect that Martin Luther King, Jr. would give Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton a harsh dressing-down, in person, but in public if necessary.   Dr. King worked hard to bring the races together as one and those who make a living by fomenting racial hatreds and mistrust are enemies of his Dream.   The Dream was that racial issues would cease, that all men would live together as people    Democrats that continue to play the race card should be ashamed of themselves.   The idea is to put an end to racial politics, not use them as a club. 

I have written previously about The Great Society and how it has tended to produce the American Ghetto, a place where most of the faces are dark, most of the people are living at a subsistence level from government handouts and an underground economy fueled by drugs, crime and prostitution runs strong.   I have walked the streets of Gangland Chicago and Northwest Indiana and heard the stories of gang-bangers being murdered and stuffed into dumpsters and grade school girls being gang-raped as a rite of initiation and other horror stories being blithely related by children growing up in a world where such things are taken for granted.

In 1983 a Republican President,  Ronald Reagan, proclaimed that the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. would henceforth be a national holiday.   Reagan had become politically active and an ally of King's desegregation initiative and under his Presidency (as noted by his son, Michael)

"African-American columnist Joseph Perkins has studied the effects of Reaganomics on black America. He found that, after the Reagan tax cuts gained traction, African-American unemployment fell from 19.5 percent in 1983 to 11.4 percent in 1989. Black-owned businesses saw income rise from $12.4 billion in 1982 to $18.1 billion in 1987-an annual average growth rate of 7.9 percent. The black middle class expanded by one-third during the Reagan years, from 3.6 million to 4.8 million."

Isn't it ironic that our first "Black" President, Barack Obama, has instituted programs that tend to keep the poor population "in their places" as virtual wards of THE STATE?   One the one hand, it is a great thing that our country has come to the place that a man of color can be elected to the office of the Presidency.  On the other hand, it is tragic that that man would be a socialist ideologue whose politics more closely resemble 19th Century bigots and 20th Century Eugenicists than the brave men like Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King, Jr. who gave their lives to make sure men and women of color could vote and work and go to school like everyone else.    

Dr. King didn't come looking for a handout or even a hand up.   He wanted even-handedness so that black and white and brown and red and yellow skins would mean nothing and that the content of character and abilities would mean everything.  He envisioned a society where freedom of opportunity and freedom from prejudice and freedom from racial hatreds would be the norm.   He envisioned an end to "the race card" being played in any suit.  If only we could say that he succeeded.   

"In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."

"...But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred..."

"...I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." 


So do I, Dr. King!   So did my brother in Christ, the former lead singer of Dion and the Belmonts,  Dion DiMucci:





My eyes cannot stop the tears from falling.   How have we, as a nation, forgotten the message of Dr. King and twisted it into unrecognizable hatred?  John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr were certainly not perfect men.   But they were great men who sought to bring us together.   Part of the process that has divided this nation into partisan camps far apart from each other were the flight paths of bullets fired by cowards to stop the mouths of the brave. 


The I Have a Dream Speech





In 1950's America, the equality of man envisioned by the Declaration of Independence was far from a reality. People of color — blacks, Hispanics, Asians — were discriminated against in many ways, both overt and covert. The 1950's were a turbulent time in America, when racial barriers began to come down due to Supreme Court decisions, like Brown v. Board of Education; and due to an increase in the activism of blacks, fighting for equal rights.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950's and the 1960's. In 1963, King and his staff focused on Birmingham, Alabama. They marched and protested non-violently, raising the ire of local officials who sicced water cannon and police dogs on the marchers, whose ranks included teenagers and children. The bad publicity and break-down of business forced the white leaders of Birmingham to concede to some anti-segregation demands.

Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. His partners in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included other religious leaders, labor leaders, and black organizers. The assembled masses marched down the Washington Mall from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, heard songs from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and heard speeches by actor Charlton Heston, NAACP president Roy Wilkins, and future U.S. Representative from Georgia John Lewis.

King's appearance was the last of the event; the closing speech was carried live on major television networks. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King evoked the name of Lincoln in his "I Have a Dream" speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The following is the exact text of the spoken speech, transcribed from recordings.


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I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.


It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

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