I have attended Toledo’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Unity celebration for many years. Today, I decided to pass on this year’s “show” (yes, the organizers used the term “show” to describe the festivities). In recent years, I have seen this ceremony devolve largely into a whitewashed view of Dr. King and his difficult, unpopular work. Not surprisingly, dead prophets are much more popular than living prophets. From these “shows” in recent years, you’d think that MLK was the leading purveyor of generic volunteerism, charity detached from justice, flying a banner of “why can’t we all just get along” rather than “put some skin in the game for justice.” These reinventions of Dr. King are dangerous since they transmute his hard fought battles and crucifixion by gunfire into a cheerleader for the status quo, the powers that be. The image that comes to my mind is the rich and powerful atop their fortress of money, status and power looking down upon the masses calling for smiling faces and “positive” attitudes in the face of their unjust privilege and recalcitrance. Instead, we should be calling out institutional classism and racism, perpetual wars (even the failed so-called war on poverty), wage slavery, income inequality, and reigning plutocracy.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed–Martin Luther King, Jr.
In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2014, I am issuing a reprise of my epic MLK poem which I wrote two years:
Owed to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rekindle the story
Of Martin Luther
An unequaled story of two halves
Those who halve
And those who halve not
As far apart as North is from South
A Protest-ant leading a Reformation
To not have a preyer
Of moral fiber
In a sea of White
To a gunfight
At the OKKK corral
Taking a beating
All that they can give
To the man
Of racial harmony
Against the elect
Impervious to ballots
Both sides agree to only won thing
Nobody wants even one King
Let alone a King, Jr.
And resistance is feudal
Incredible odds must be faced
Hate to won
How to right a bout
A fray sew
Governors, mayors, and sheriffs
Wee the people
Wile police do the bidding of property owners
That would be U.S. versus “them”
Nationwide there would be no holiday
For aegis to come
With their eye halve a dream speech
Something between a White Christmas
And some Valentines Day massacre
Like anyone could be that cupid
That somebody will eat Jim Crow
The too haves
“Change takes time”
Like a sentry
Long asleep at his post
For a bad check
100 years overdue…
view the full MLK Day poem here.
You can also download a free mini-poster of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Obama “I have a dream…I have a drone.” Surely, if Dr. King were alive today, he would be speaking out against and taking action against drone killings.