History will forever mark the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King and President Barack Obama as part of the continuum of progress of Black America. Dr. King was the leader that we all looked to lead Black America to a promised land of freedom justice and equality. Barack Obama, whose story is still being written, will always bear the title as being “the one” who bears the mark as the personification of what King was striving for
That striving was to share in the American Dream and the power of change. Their lives and histories are inextricably tied together tough they lived in different times.
When a man can be born into the world with nothing and rise to become a great leader, he has accomplished the American Dream. When that man is Black and comes into the world with a heritage that is identifi ed as being defi ned by a legacy of slavery, he starts behind in the race to live that dream. When in spite of his legacy he still rises to lead, he has come twice as far as the one whose legacy includes being born the child of the proverbial slave master.
The difference between the child whose legacy includes being born the child of the master and the child of slaves is where the will of God fi ts in. When Dr Benjamin Mays, the President of Morehouse College, eulogized Dr King, he started with the words, “Surely this man was called of God to do this work.”
He went on to say, ‘If Amos and Micah were prophets in the eighth century, B.C., Martin Luther King was a prophet in the twentieth century. If Isaiah was called of God to prophesy in his day, Martin Luther was called of God to Prophesy in his time. If Hosea was sent to preach love and forgiveness centuries ago, Martin Luther was sent to expound the doctrine of nonviolence and forgiveness in the third quarter of the twentieth century.”
Dr King died in 1968, in the twentieth century. President Barack Obama was elected to the Presidency in 2008 of the twenty first century for his purpose. Hopefully, his life, like Kings, will also serve God’s purpose in leading Black America and the world out of the wilderness of supremacy.
premacy. Dr. King’s life, if it provided any message to leave the world, it leaves the message that we must work to make dreams happen. It is not enough to clasp your hands, get on your knees and pray, then fold your arms and lay down to rest. Dr King requires us to work to make the dreams happen and see change.
In his day Dr King spoke to and talked to those leaders of the day to use their power to make things CHANGE, and we must do the same today. In his letter from a Birmingham jail he wrote to the leaders of the clergy of the day that, “I must confess that over the last few years, I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council or the Ku Klux Klan, but the white moderate who is more devoted “to order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advised the Negro to “wait until a more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will”
In 1968 when Dr King was killed, I was a senior at Pepperdine College in Los Angeles before it moved to Malibu. I was the President of the first Black Student Union that Pepperdine College ever had. We noted that there were men of good will running the Christian-oriented school, but there were no African American Professors and no classes on African American History. We did as Dr. King had taught us and protested, and we saw CHANGE. When I began practicing Law, I concentrated on employment Discrimination cases for over thirty years to help make CHANGES through the courts when negotiation would not work. When my wife and I started The Journal in 1989, I concentrated my column on the traditions of the Black Press and challenged the powers that be to CHANGE things. We called on the Tournament of Roses to CHANGE from what was often called The Tournament of Racism in the Black and Brown Communities to CHANGE to a more inclusive organization. They did and we fi nally saw the fi rst Black President, Gerald Freeney, last year, because it is right, rather than loud tension. And hopefully we continue seeing Black Queens and Princesses on the Rose Parade court. We called on the School District to CHANGE and make sure that they do justice for all students. We called on the City’s Police Department, the Personnel Departments and the City Manager’s offi ce to do justice and practice equality and there has been CHANGE. All of these things require eternal vigilance. We can’t ever stop because people have a tendency of falling back into old patterns, which we currently see happening again. Our rights are being taken away, and this time more openly, boldly, forcefully and violently! WHAT WOULD KING DO?
The Journal has tried to do the best to follow the traditions of the Black Press while following the teachings of Dr. King. That calls on us to look inward and then act.
Happy King holiday!