April 4th

Today is the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. I cried this morning hearing his voice on the radio. His voice, his words, represented defiance, challenge, hope, change, the possibility of a better place, a more just place, and he spoke of it so convincingly it almost seemed possible. They shot him in the face, i didn’t know that until today, they shot his face, his blackness, his defiance, his hope, it was in his face. I say they, even though the murder is attributed to James Earl Ray, because it feels like they. It feels like the nation allowed him to be killed, and that we allow others like him all over the world who were and are defiant, who dare to speak of a more just place, we condemn them to stand alone, to be our heroes, our heroines, our martyrs, while we cheer them on in the protests, community meetings, conferences, and elections. We may not all be as eloquent as Martin Luther King jr., but if we don’t all speak, if we leave the speaking to the few that sound the best, those who are the most convincing, then we are sentencing them to be targets. Targets for psychotic racists who think they are ridding the world of evil and crave infamy, and paternalistic Governments that want to maintain dominance over their unruly children, and corporations and NGO’s that have substantial investment in keeping the world unjust.


2 responses to “April 4th

  1. As an aside, K and I watched a DVD of Bob Dylan performing “Only a Pawn in Their Game”, which makes a similar point to what you say about James Earl Ray:

    I’m also reminded how King’s legacy has been neutered by acceptable history. He is supposed to be remembered as a figure of racial conciliation, and we are to forget his strong critique of ongoing economic injustice and militarism.


    The recent flap over Obama’s pastor’s “unacceptable” criticisms makes me think about how little has changed. It’s still beyond the bounds of debate to assert that we are “on the wrong side of a world revolution.”

  2. hannamitchell

    thanks for the comments Brian. I feel like i wanted to write more on this post, and i still may, but your comments about the neutering and diluting of his legacy reminded of me of a great quote of his.

    Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

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