You might see a lot of Martin Luther King Jr. quotes floating along your social media timelines today. Quite fitting, seeing as how today is MLK Day. Last year I got into some verbal fisticuffs with social media friends who put up random MLK quotes because I knew for a fact that they lived their daily lives in direct opposition to the principles of Dr. King’s messages. I asked them if they truly understood what Dr. King preached in his sermons and speeches, did they actually GET it?
Stop posting MLK Day quotes if you don’t get the meaning behind Dr. King’s real message! Somebody has to say it, so it looks like it’s going to be me.
Most Americans are familiar with the “I Have a Dream” speech because that seems to be the only one taught in school textbooks and curriculum. There are, however, many other orations that go beyond the “feel good” message given at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was seen as a “radical” during the 1960s, primarily because he preached that true equality and freedom for African Americans could not happen unless there were radical systemic changes to the American way of life.
These radical systemic changes included ending police brutality, reparations, ending segregation of “Colored” people from the White population, bestowing voting rights to people of color, ceasing workplace discrimination, and providing job training to Black men and women along with other communities of color who have been historically underrepresented in lucrative jobs and industries.
America has come far from those horrifying days of our wide-spread overtly racist past, which were only fifty some-odd years ago, yet we still have so far to go until we reach the pinnacle of Dr. King’s mountaintop of true JUSTICE.
POLICE BRUTALITY IN AMERICA
Smoking a cigarette, sleeping in their own house, selling loose (individual) cigarettes on the street block, going into their own apartment building, having an air freshener on their rear-view mirror, waiting for a meeting at Starbucks, unlocking the door to their own house, suspicion for using counterfeit money at a convenience store, and the list is so long it could fill up a scroll.
REPARATIONS FOR BLACK AMERICANS
The promise of a large payment to Black slaves and their descendants was promised to all African Americans with the Emancipation Proclamation. They were to receive 40 acres of land (the equivalent of 20 soccer fields to give you a visual perspective) and 1 mule to help them in their efforts to cultivate their new land. (and was cruelly revoked by President Andrew Johnson). Some estimates say this reparation would currently be worth the equivalent of $6.4 Trillion dollars. It is cruel of this country to have given reparations to every other group of minorities except for Black Americans.
SEGREGATION OF BLACKS IN AMERICA
Black people were not allowed to go swimming in the same pool as the Whites. They also were not allowed to sit in front sections of public transportation including trains. They had to drink at separate water fountains and sit in separate areas of restaurants and diners. They could not stay at certain hotels, attend country clubs, dance with Whites in public and on television shows, receive public accolades for acting in roles other than maids, criminals, and sex workers, sit anywhere they wanted in movie theaters, sit with Whites whilst on the job, date or marry White people, sit amongst Whites in venues–even after performing for them in clubs and events, and in many towns across America, they were not allowed to be outside past sunset. What a cruel, cruel world it certainly was to live in. You should not be shocked to hear that some of these above atrocities still occur in America today.
There is a thing on social media called “Living While Black”. It takes a hard look at ordinary mundane things Black people are doing that seems to rub some white people the wrong way, for no other reason than because the other person is Black.
You can fill in the blank with any one of these ordinary things a Black person was doing and there is an example of a White person getting mad about it: _____ While Black.
Walking to their father’s house in a neighborhood, walking home from work in the snow, having a barbecue in the park (remember BBQ Becky?), being a child running a lemonade stand, bird watching, walking on a sidewalk in the neighborhood, jogging in a neighborhood, swimming in a hotel pool with their kids, renting an Airbnb, going into their own apartments, checking out a home for sale with their Black real estate agent, and many other incidents.
VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1964
For some reason, Black people having permanent voting rights has not been added as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The Voting Rights Act of 1964 gave Black folks the right to vote, yet for some inexplicable reason, it had an expiration date. Another inexplicable fact is that there is a majority of Congress members who will not re-authorize the act!
WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION IN AMERICA
There is a reason that Affirmative Action policies and the Equal Employment Opportunity Center (EEOC) exist to this day. There was a time when employers were allowed by law to NOT hire someone because they were not a White person and in other cases because the person was a WOMAN. This is incomprehensible to me! Like, how DARE somebody Black or a person of color try to get a job that pays a ton of money (sarcasm font)!
JOB TRAINING FOR BLACK AMERICANS
Another way African Americans were discriminated against on a systemic level was when many employers were allowed by law to refuse to train them because they had dark skin. Again, this is baffling to me! This old American racist practice was prohibited when The Civil Rights Act of 1964 became the law of the land.