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Friday, May 16, 2008

Too Confrontational

A story last week reported that a proposed statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. for a memorial in his honor has been rejected by the arts panel that commissioned it because "King looks too confrontational" in the artist's model.

Too Confrontational?????? That is what Dr. King was all about - confrontation. His entire public career was about confrontation - confrontation of the establishment, of the status quo, of racism, of economic injustice, of the war in Vietnam, I could go on and on. Too confrontational - give me a break.

And while we're at it - the mainstream media and the mainstream history pundits would have us believe that MLK was a sort of nice guy in the "I Have A Dream" speech. The last two-three years of King's crusade was more about economic justice than civil rights, and his speeches became more 'inflammatory' and more confrontational than before. We never get to hear those speeches - it is like they have disappeared from the history books.

Here is an excerpt from MLK's speech to the striking sanitation workers on March 18, 1968, about 3 weeks before his assassination:

And I come by here to say that America too is going to Hell, if we don't use her wealth. If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty, to make it possible for all of God's children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to Hell. I will hear America through her historians years and years to come saying, "We built gigantic buildings to kiss the sky. We build gargantuan bridges to span the seas. Through our spaceships we were able to carve highways through the stratosphere. Through our airplanes we were able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. Through our submarines we were able to penetrate oceanic depths."
But it seems that I can hear the God of the universe saying, "even though you've done all of that, I was hungry and you fed me not. I was naked and ye clothed me not. The children of my sons and daughters were in need of economic security, and you didn't provide for them. So you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness." This may well be the indictment on America that says in Memphis to the mayor, to the power structure, "If you do it unto the least of these my brethren, you do it unto me."…

Shades of Jeremiah Wright anyone? (emphasis mine)

You can read the entire speech here: http://www.aft.org/topics/civil-rights/mlk/memphis-speech.htm I haven't been able to find audio of this, if anyone else knows where, please let me know.

So, was MLK confrontational? You bet! Does the statue do him justice? You bet! I also firmly believe that he would be spinning in his grave over the idea that a statue of him was being proposed, but even more so at the idea that it was "too confrontational". He would be laughing himself silly.

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