Tag: dr. king

What He Did

Posted by – January 20, 2014

I love this Daily Kos diary which explains what Dr. King actually did. It’s not about the quotes. It’s about standing up to systemic violence.


My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.”

Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about.

But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

I’m guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing “The Help,” may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the mid west and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.

It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.

You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement decided to use to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.

This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people . . .

This is the climate of fear that Dr. King ended.

(I think sometimes that in a very different way, this is what LGBT people have been doing for the past 20 years or so.)

Ending the Day: Amiri Baraka

Posted by – January 21, 2013

Every year we read a ton of quotes attributed to Dr. King, and miss out on all the other amazing, liberatory art that’s come out of Black america. This is only an excerpt:

This is my own transcription:

But I aint come from a foolish tribe
we wants the the mule / the land / you can make it 300 years of blue chip stock in the entire operation
we want to be paid in a central bank the average worker farmer wage for all those years we gave it free
plus we want damages for all the killings and the fraud, the lynchings the missing justice the lies and frame ups the unwarranted jailings the tar and featherings the character and race assassinations historical slander ugly caricatures for every sambo stepnfetchit flick
we want to be paid
for every hurtful thing you did or said
for all the land you took for all the rapes all the rosewoods and black wall streets you jobs
all the miseducation jobs lost
segregated shacks we live in
the disease that ate & killed us
for all the mad police that drilled us
all the music and dances you stole
the styles the language the hip clothes you copied
the careers you stopped

all these are suits, specific litigation

How We Honor Dr. King

Posted by – January 16, 2012

“Power without love is reckless & abusive,

& love without power is sentimental & anemic.

Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice

& justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

- Dr. King

Found here.

Or, as my friend Dylan posted on Facebook:

Spend this day in reflection.

Put no words in Dr. King’s mouth and make no assumptions that he would be on your side if he was alive this day; dead men can neither dispute words nor defend deeds. Create no saints where there was only a brave, fragile human who spoke for justice at his peril and ultimately to his demise.

Above all, remember the work that must be done tomorrow, for while Dr. King gave us momentum there is still so much left to do, so many challenges yet to come. May we share his strength and bravery as we act justly in the face of injustice, and in doing so honor his legacy more than any statue or holiday could attempt.

Indeed. That last bit would make a lovely start to any meeting, or any day.