Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK - Beyond "I Have A Dream"

This is an update to my annual MLK remembrance. I really wanted to post "A Knock At Midnight"... the greatest of all the MLK sermons/speeches in my opinion. But I have not been able to convert this sermon from my analog tape to digital. Unfortunately I don't have a Cassette-CD converter.

But there is still plenty of material here to read/watch/and listen to.

NPR has a story about a project by Jazz Bassist Christian McBribe showing his appreciation for Dr. King.

There is also a two hour special from American Routes, celebrating King and the Civil Rights Era through music...and pointing out the role of music during the height of the movement. Definitely a program that you should not miss. Listen while you can... I don't know how long the audio will be available.

Hear Hour 1

Hear Hour 2

I have also added "I've Been To the Mountaintop" in its entirety.

This is definitely an historic year (already...just a few weeks into 2009). Barack Obama... the first non-white U.S. President...or first U.S. President of Color will be sworn in the day after Kings birthday is officially observed. If that's not enough, Obama- the product of the Union of a Kenyan Father and White mother from Kansas- will take the oath of office at the U.S. Capitol built largely with African Slave labor. He will then enter the White House for the first time as President... a House built by African Slaves. They don't even attempt to make movies with pendulums that swing this far... because it just seems too unreal. A journey like this has only been the purview of Comedy writers, and the SNL skits... because it just couldn't happen in real life. It was only a couple of years ago that there was a TV drama and a movie depicting a Black President in a serious role.

I just hope Obama understands Kings' message in The Drum Major Instinct, and Kings' passion for international peace, and his feelings toward growing U.S. militarism & imperialist tendencies.... a passion which was just as strong as his passion for Civil Rights, if not stronger. I can already conclude that Hillary Clinton does not get it...and has probably never gotten it, and never will. This is a woman who has been quoted threatening Iran.... saying that she would destroy obliterate Iran (with U.S. nukes) if she were President. But, as Secretary of State, I am hoping that she will reflect the policy and vision of the President. That's really the only hope we have for any sort of Progressive, peaceful international policy over the next 4 years; because left to her own devices, Hillary Clinton would go in a much more Neo-Conservative direction. Under these circumstances, I am hoping that Obama really has an understanding of what King stood for. Obama's policy choices... especially on the economic and foreign policy fronts, will show if Dr. King is really part of his conscience in any serious way, or if he is simply paying lip service when he speaks of his admiration for King.



And while we remember the true essence of King, I can't help but mention what some of the Traditional "Black Leaders" & Black "Luminaries" will be up to on this day... apparently they will be at another Corporate event... (surprise surprise) using the King Holiday & the Obama inauguration to help Pepsi Co. with branding and relaunching their products under a new image, with the motto of "Refreshing the World". Are they kidding me? I thought this was a joke at first glance... but it's apparently true. There is something disturbing about the whole idea. Maybe it's just me. And i'm a little disappointed to see Dr. West participating in such an event.


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There was much more to Dr. King than I Have A Dream. Americans will be bombarded today (and in February) with loops of the famous I Have A Dream speech being played 10,000 times. But you won't see or hear the speech here. The U.S. uses that speech as a way to disarm Kings message. It has been ironic to watch the U.S. government "honor" King over the last few years, particularly while the U.S. has been at war, yet they avoid mentioning anything about his well known moral and political position on War....and the War in Vietnam in particular. Just take out the word Vietnam and replace it with Iraq, and it sounds like King is talking in the present.

It's a shame that his Holiday is not truly celebrated in this country. Most people see it as just another day. Most White Americans barely recognize the day. It's a shame and very ironic that a man who spoke against segregation has a national Holiday that is segregated in terms of how people recognize it.

Below, I have included 5 great speeches from Dr King, some of them dealing with his feelings about war.

What Would MLK Say About The World Today?

What Would Dr. King Think About What Was Going On In The World Today?

He basically told us 4 decades ago.... we were just a little late arriving to the show.
If we would just listen to these Prophets when they are here sounding the alarm, maybe we could avoid more disasters. Many of the things that King spoke of 4 decades ago, we see today. It is a combination of things not changing, and King being way ahead of his time, foretelling issues and threats decades ago that we are now seeing develop today in our lifetimes.

Listen to the speech The Drum Major Instinct, given in February of 1968. This is one of my favorite speeches, and one that never gets old. It is so relevant for today. It's also one of Kings great messages. However, his greatest & most powerful speech, in my opinion, has to be a speech titled "A Knock At Midnight". Scary speech. Unfortunately I don’t have A Knock At Midnight in a digital format. But Drum Major Instinct is also one of his great messages….one of my top 3 favorites.

I Have a Dream is a great speech but it is not his greatest work. But America often uses I Have a Dream to try to sanitize King, and box him into being a Civil Rights/Racial Equality leader. The fact is, between 1965 & 1968, King was the leading anti-war voice and leading voice for economic equality in the country. I think that is part of the reason that he was gunned down. This is the part of Kings history that is hardly ever told. It's the part of his history that America tries to smother every year when the nation goes through its so called "remembrance". If they really wanted to honor King they would rewrite the school books to tell the true story about his efforts. He was not just a civil rights leader. If they wanted to honor him, they would try to live up to his vision....a vision that went beyond race and civil rights. Peace was at the heart of his struggle. He was just as passionate as an anti-war advocate as he was as a civil rights advocate....and perhaps maybe even more so as a Peace advocate.

Other Great Speeches

Sticking Together

Beyond Vietnam (Speaking Out Against The Vietnam War in front of a national group of Clergy in New York, April 4, 1967; exactly one year before he died. )

See Text of Beyond Vietnam Speech

Related Article

Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam RIGHT CLICK AND SAVE FOR EASIER PLAYBACK (similar speech given in front of his own congregation at the Ebenezer Baptist Church)

But If Not

I've Been To The Mountain Top - His Final Speech, April 3, 1968, given in Memphis Tennessee. Under an unusually high number of death threats, and feeling ill, King went to speak anyway, braving the assassins and the bad weather.


Rev. Lowery

See a video interview with Rev. Joseph Lowery from a couple of years ago. Link To Webpage.


Democracy Now Covers MLK

Great Story About Kings Last Hours In Memphis Helping the Sanitation Workers


Great Article

Reclaiming King: Beyond “I Have A Dream” Read Here.


redante said...

Thanks for these resources AI. These are great! I listened to the Drum Major Instinct sermon for the first time and the parallels and relevance to today's current events is uncanny. In the continuing sanitization and mainstreaming of activist figures like MLK it is good to know that these materials exist to remind everyone of his radical and even revolutionary roots. Too bad what is probably being taught in schools and what young people end up learning is the sanitized, safe version of MLK -- the true version is much more interesting and educational.

rikyrah said...

you rocked it, AI. This is a great post. Thanks so much for all the good stuff you found and shared.