“A Threat to Justice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere”
Whenever Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gets brought up in conversations these days, many people smile and say, What a wise and holy man. How ashamed would he be of the savages in Black Lives Matter!
Many other people shake their heads and say, Dr. King was a great man, but he was an idealist, not a realist. His people are still oppressed.
And both sides are right in their own ways. He worked for peace and unity. His methods were peaceful. He was not Malcom X.
But he also created conflict. He, Rosa Parks, and other dissenters cost Montgomery bus companies thousands of dollars with the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and 1956. The sit-ins and demonstrations ended in protesters getting arrested. Dr. King himself got arrested 30 times. Even after American institutions desegregated, he continued to campaign for programs to help the poor. Despite sharp criticism, he was also adamantly against the Vietnam War. His famous quote, which I placed at the beginning, was said in reference to the war.
Dr. King had nothing in common with those who invoke his name hoping to silence the angry and the fearful. He was angry. He was so angry, he couldn’t stay quiet in fear.
It’s impossible to know how he would fee about today’s black activism. If his opinion of Malcolm X and Black Nationalism is any indication, he would understand the source of the rage and fear, but would advocate nonviolence because “it does something to touch the conscience and establish a sense of guilt… This sense of guilt does not make the white man feel comfortable.” Likewise, he would empathize with those in the uprisings while still condemning the violence because “there’s no organization to the riots… they grow out of the things I’ve mentioned all along. As the long as the Negro finds himself living every day in a major depression, then every city will sit on a powder keg and explode over the slightest incident. I feel that killing is a very tragic way to deal with any social problem. There is no violent solution to the problems the negro confronts in this country.”
In short, his weapon was love, and while we may be angry and distraught over the needless violence and death in America every day, we must follow his example and build each other. As hard as this past year was and as bleak as things look, only love can drive out hate.
It’s not a black thing; it’s the right thing
Sources I used: