WWMLKS (What Would Martin Luther King Say)

Floyd 800px-Leffler_-_1968_Washington,_D.C._Martin_Luther_King,_Jr._riots

There is nothing that I really have ready to say today.  It is not for lack of trying.

Part of me wants to divert from the terrible, terrible things that have been happening this week.  It should be easy because I have largely given up writing on matters of politics and national affairs.  However, a respect for George Floyd prevents me from avoiding this topic.

Part of me wants to say something about what happened to Mr. Floyd and has been happening since, but all I can manage is a bunch of half-formed thoughts which have no value right now.  Let’s just say that both the left and the right have been tragically wrong about a lot of things when it comes to race, and all of us need to pull back and do some fresh thinking before opening our yaps.

About all I can offer is my observation that I really, really miss the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. along about now.  It is not controversial to say that the civil rights icon of the mid twentieth century is revered.  In theory, at least.  Does he rate anything more than lip service today?

If you click this link right here  it will take anyone who cares to read it to a speech Dr. King gave on June 4, 1957 – a time fairly early in the struggle for civil rights and in a time and place, I daresay, where things were a lot worse than they are now.

Reading that speech makes me miss the wisdom of Dr. King.  His plan for non-violence in response to violence was not an easy sell for him in 1957 and is no easier to sell today.

I leave you with two thoughts.

First, I really hope you will click on the link and read Dr. King’s words – it’s only a little over two pages and gives us an opportunity to consider his proposals in his own words, with his thoughts developed and explained as he intended.

Second, for George Floyd and for all who have lost their lives in the violent aftermath of his terrible death, I offer this ancient prayer:  Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed, in the mercy of God, rest in peace.

 

Image Credit

1968 Photograph from U.S. News & World Report showing the aftermath of riots in Washington D.C. in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King – No known copyright, via Wikimedia Commons

15 thoughts on “WWMLKS (What Would Martin Luther King Say)

  1. Amen.

    “…both the left and the right have been tragically wrong about a lot of things when it comes to race, and all of us need to pull back and do some fresh thinking before opening our yaps.”

    That’s the best analysis I’ve read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “……(May that) we will be able to move from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man to the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.”

    It seems we may never learn. This powerful passage from 1957, instructive to us all, your country and mine, and all God’s peoples. I hope and wish that we could heed its words.

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    • I have started to fear that we are getting to a place where King and his authority from 60 years ago no longer has relevance to younger generations who lack his deep ties to Christianity and his understanding of the need to strive for genuine community. Personally, I am struck by the brilliance of his way. When we look at all of the old grainy black and white film from that time it is all police dogs and fire hoses and the rest. There is nothing for opponents to point to by way of excuse. King built a moral case to which there was no good faith defense.

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  3. I share your wish that we had a figure like MLK today. —and I appreciate your linking to his speech. I think it’s important to remember that he was vilified not only by white racists, but also by the larger society because he opposed the Vietnam War. And J Edgar Hoover did his best to detract from his spiritual power by leaking FBI tapes about him.

    I also think it’s very important that we get as good an account as possible about what’s going on now. It should not be considered political to learn what disruptive forces are trying to create mayhem among the tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators. If there were/are anarchists on the left, we should know about them. To date, the FBI has said they have uncovered no “antifa” movement. The only radicals arrested so far have been 3 so-called “bugaloo boys” who are white supremacists with Molotov cocktails. That simply says to me that this antifa thing is yet another hyped political ploy to discredit the marchers.
    I hadn’t heard anything about the bundles of bricks S potential weapons that you mentioned in response to one of my posts. I would love to know your source. In today’s N.Y. Times, writer James Poniewozik, discussing the use of video this past week, observed: “For the authorities, it could be a cudgel, as when the White House tweeted a video, later deleted, that dishonestly implied that a set of security barriers outside a Los Angeles synagogue was a cache of stones to be hurled by ‘Antifa and professional anarchists.’”
    I wish more than anything that our differing politics did not prevent us from having such differing understanding of events. After writing all this, I was tempted to erase everything except the very beginning. But if we’re asking what MLK would say, I’m quite sure he’d want us to keeping searching for the truth, even if it makes us all uncomfortable.

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    • I believe that King’s approach was more successful than we will ever know. All of the old film showing violence was directed at King and his marchers, not perpetrated by them. He made a moral case that was unassailable.

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  4. Thank you for this post. Dr. King’s words are powerful and entirely appropriate for the divide at hand. This is a process and one can only hope Dr. King’s vision awaits our society somewhere down the road.

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  5. I really wonder why we never learn about famous figures in history until they die, or their words and beliefs are brought to life during current events. I truthfully don’t remember learning about Martin Luther King until the fateful day in Memphis in April 1968 when he was killed. It came as an announcement on the PA system at school and I don’t believe anything was said by our teacher that I can recall. Two months later Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed. More was said then – perhaps there was more shock due to it being one of the Kennedy clan. Had I lived here when MLK gave his “trial run” of his “I have a dream” speech here in Detroit in 1963, I likely would have known more about this man so I enjoyed reading the article you linked to in your post. This afternoon a group of attorneys, mostly from the public defender’s office marched through downtown Detroit’s business section on behalf of Mr. Floyd. I didn’t know if anyone did this in your hometown or not, so here is the link to a story from “The Detroit News”: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2020/06/08/detroit-public-defenders-march-justice-system-changes/5318792002/

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    • I don’t recall learning about him in school either, but then we never got a lot of current events – he wasn’t “history” back then, and we would have been grade schoolers then, too.

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      • Same here – now the kids could learn a lot of history just by current events … I don’t want to dumb down my generation; we were 12 or 13 in 1968, but we had a simpler life. No social media swirling around us … we were more into kid-type things, maybe even not so grown up as these kids are. Also, back at the height of Martin Luther King’s preachings and teachings, White people did not take an interest in marches or racial injustice like they do now … I think that makes a big difference too JP. White people were slow to get a grasp of what has been going on for years, just recognizing the plight of Black people, the profiling, the real fear in recent years as cellphone videos has captured the images and they have traveled around the world as we collectively watched in horror. I hope after Mr. Floyd is laid to rest today, the protests and any violence/looting simmers down to nothing, but may we never forget this incident or the related incidents. The year 2020 is a memorable year for all the wrong reasons.

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