January 25, 2008

Sometimes I am amazed that I inhabited this world at the same time as Martin Luther King, even if only for a scant 6 years. And I’m saddened the image of him commonly celebrated on MLK day is so sanitized. He’s been de-radicalized for public consumption, wrapped up in the “I have a dream” sound bite. It’s as though we want to forget what led him to speaking about having that dream – that to be an African-American in the U.S. during that time and long before was nightmarish.

Thinking of King this week I read Letter from a Birmingham Jail and I cried a bit: When you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society . . .

I encourage you to read or re-read it for yourself. Note this is PDF.

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