Friday, April 4, 2008

Martin Luther King: 40 Years Later

I have never been excited celebrating the death or the birth of Martin Luther King, jr. Today, I feel excited for the first time in my life. Watching Barack Obama's campaign rally and watching black, white, latino and others come together for a deeper and bigger cause, maybe there is hope, maybe this man did not die in vain.

9 comments:

Daddydan said...

KR,

How in the hell can you even start to think that MLK died in vain? How many lives were changed because of his actions? How many were inspired to go out and work in their communities, to fight for justice, to work toward a better day?

What would be enough change for you to constitute not dying in vain? Obama is not some redemption or fulfilling of MLK's dream. He is a product of its fulfillment. There reality that minorities are still disenfranchised, humiliated, oppressed and neglected does not mean that progress has not been made, or that more progress will not be made.

I love your stuff, KR, but MLK did not die in vain. Not if his life means so much to so many, and so many of that multitude were not even born when he was murdered.

Paul Newell said...

dd,
Your point is well taken, but I think we can take kr's post as poetic (much like Michelle Obama's comments). KR knows that King's legacy lives with us. Indeed he fights for it in courtrooms every day.

King did not die in vain.

More importantly, Dr. King did not live in vain.

I hope I can say the same.

Kid Radical said...

Thanks PN for sticking with me. And DD what the heck is your problem? You are consistently trying to undermine my comments and don't get me wrong, I welcome disagreement, but this seems a little uncalled for...

My point was exactly what PN said. Some of what I meant is that those that vehemently disagreed with Martin are the ones touting his message (John McCain) and even the NAACP who fought him tooth and nail when he was alive. His quote and quite frankly his growth in including racism with consumerism and militarism all tied into one has not even been addressed and has been enhanced under the last 20 years.

And if I might add, yes change has occurred much to the thanks of the civil rights movement, but it stopped right around when Reagen was elected. A point in fact - Detroit schools graduate 24% of their students from high school. They are the worst of many schools including Newark, NYC, Jersey City, Oakland, etc. all well below a 50% graduation rate. And the African-American rates in those schools are even worse.

That is a legacy of racism. Period. One in ten black men in this country are in jail! Racism. And if I may many black men in this country still live under the guise of a slave society born into an unjust system and getting on a train that takes them right to Rikers Island.

And also if I may - my brother Barack is WAY ahead of the game when it comes to this progress. He is not as progressive a candidate as I would like, but I also think this has to do with his place in this election. After some somewhat controversial remarks by his pastor white neo-liberals were ready to run him out of this race, not to mention the right wing nuts.

And if I also may clear up my thoughts on something. In my mind there is no comparison to the racism/sexism argument. This is not to diminish the legacy of sexism which is still very real and I admit Hillary does suffer the consequences of this, but I believe there is no way a comparison. There have been three (count them three) elected Senators who have been black since reconstruction. Three. Barack, Ed Brooks and Carol Mosely Braun There have been two elected black governors Now Deval Patrick and formerly Doug Wilder. We also have paterson in NY now, but he was not elected, nor would he have been.

We have white women all over this country being elected to public office including governors and senators. I can name several just off the top of my head - Mcaskill, Gregoire, Napolitano, Klubochar, Feinstein, Boxer, right there that is more than has ever been elected as black politicians and there are many, many more.

The most powerful democrat in the party is Nancy Pelosi for crying out loud, who I have come to love and respect. I say this because I believe Barack Obama is truly living the legacy of Martin Luther King and even broadening it through his candidacy. It is mind boggling what he is achieving as a black presidential candidate taking the party back from the corporate scum who ruined it in the first place (though not perfectly).

I work with many black folks as well as diverse a coalition of attorneys as you could find - and the pride that is illustrated in the fact that Obama can be our next President is worth the price of admission to me. Just the symbol of Barack can shift our world. That I truly believe.

Sorry for the tirade, but I think your comment is just plain weird.

Daddydan said...

I was not trying to undermine your ideas, John. The last thing I want to do is piss off someone else through a blog. I already lost one of my best friends doing that.

I guess I misunderstood what you were getting at. I hope that you are right that Barack can change our world. I do not think he will do half of what MLK did, but that is just my opinion. He made it this far because he is a great listener, driven and brilliant. he is also a centrist. But, I agree that there is no doubt that he is the best thing to come to Presidential politics in a long while.

I fully support Barack, and you KR. But I can disagree without undermining.

Paul Newell said...

For me, and I have been thinking a great deal on this lately, the point is to act. That is perhaps what most lives on from King's legacy.

As he points out in the speech I link to above, progress comes and goes. You win on segregation, and then watch integrated soldiers kill and be killed for no reason. You get a "war on poverty" and lose it a few years later because of a war on poor people.

This country is so full of contradiction and promise. I know we can do better. I know our system is broken.

I know also that long odds can be beaten. I know this in part because Dr. King showed us. I know this because Ghandi beat an empire by spinning thread. I have seen a small group of friends build an an organization that provides HIV treatment and services to over 45,000 children.

I spoke to a woman yesterday whose son was sentenced to 5 years for simple possession. Now she's fighting eviction from public housing for "harboring a drug criminal". She will probably lose her case, as that's the law, and she can't afford a private lawyer (neither could her son in the criminal case). A one bedroom in this neighborhood goes for about $3000 per month now.

I stood there, outside this woman's door, which I had knocked on to give her a pretty flyer of myself. I tried to tell her how I want to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws that destroyed her family. I told her that my opponent was responsible. He is, in part.

But she just asked me what I could do help her keep her apartment. There was a reporter there. I wanted to seem like I knew all the answers. Helpless, I damn near cried. I made a joke about how bad my Spanish is. She did not laugh, and neither did the reporter. I’ll be referring her to a legal clinic on Monday, but I doubt they can help.

This is rambling. I guess what I want to say is that I know we have failed in so many ways. So much of what Dr. King stood for has been failed. In 2004 I almost gave up on this country. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We must bend it. I am trying. For me, that is King’s legacy. And it lives.

Kid Radical said...

PN - yes, she is indeed in trouble. But, it is not hopeless. It depends on much, though it matters not that she knew or did not know about his "dealings." But, it really matters on the discretion of the housing authority.

This is a law, like the Rockefeller drug laws that should be completely fucking done away with...because a mom, sister, grandmother has someone with any kind of drug charge they can be thrown our of public housing. Awful. Yet, another legacy of racism as far as I am concerned. I hope she somehow gets the help, PN.

And keep on keepin' on.

Kid Radical said...

And DD, I did not say he can change the world, I said he could shift our world. Maybe towards a better place, where one's pastor says nontroversial things and almost runs him from the race, where a white society finally comest to the knowledge that we are a racist society, but we can change and we can shift our dialogue.

I also do not believe he is a centrist, I believe if he was anymore left he would be compared to Jesse Jackson and all the other black politicians. Because he is staying vague, I believe his candidacy will stay alive. And when he becomes President he will institute progressive policies. There is no one in probably the history of American politics who has had such pressure on his candidacy. And he is succeeding by the way.

In no way is Barack Obama Martin Luther King or Bobby Kennedy for that matter. He is Barack Obama. And that is good enough for me right now.

Daddydan said...

I truly hope that you are right, KR. I know that you cannot come out like Jesse jackson and expect to win more than NY, but I dont know that you can be President of the US and work with a Congress that is at the most centrist, and be that Progressive.

PN, I am studying Spanish these days down in Brazil. Have you thought about refreshing yours, if you are running in a city like NY? Couldn't hurt if you could find the time. I love the idea of going back to NYC and having an idea what 30% of the city is saying.

Daddydan said...

Just an idea, PN. Albeit small, maybe it could, in the long run, help.