Tag Archives: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is my Hero

28 Aug

This video still makes me cry 50 years later. Makes me cry with its poignancy. Makes me cry with its promise. Makes me cry with its evocative qualities.

I am listening to it right now. “I Have a Dream . . .”

Today is the 50 year anniversary of that speech. And we still have so far to go in racial reconciliation. In basic respect and human dignity.

“Now is the time . . .”

Dr. Martin Luther King was introduced on that day as “the moral leader of our nation.” I believe that was true. I was raised to deny that, but I have come to believe it was true.
If not, who was? John F. Kennedy? Lyndon B. Johnson? Richard M. Nixon?

I am aware that Dr. King most certainly had extramarital affairs. My relatives brought that up as I was growing up as their objection to making him a hero. I say that that was a double standard.

JFK had extramarital affairs, too. Only the press turned a blind eye to his affairs as the FBI followed Dr. King around, believing him to be a possible danger to our country.

Ironically, one of JFK’s affairs has subsequently been tied to someone in the mob (not saying that he had mob ties, but just that he shared a woman with a mob boss, not cool!). Yet the FBI pursued Dr. King and ignored JFK. A total double standard.

And in all that, Dr. King continued his work for racial equality. He didn’t stop to face down the FBI, he didn’t address the rumors about his personal life, he didn’t argue that what was being done to him was a double standard. He could have done that, but he did not.

He had more important work to do, and only 39 years in which to do it before someone ended his life!

Be careful what you say when you hold up a moral standard for heroes. Only Jesus Christ qualifies for that ultimately!

Certainly not many modern politicians can claim the moral high ground of being one man married to one woman for life. Even my modern hero, Ronald Reagan, divorced and remarried.

And I refuse to get into the debate of whether it is better morally to have a series of “serial marriages” or whether it is better to remain married to one person and have affairs. The Lord defined the standard as one man and one woman for life, so it is obvious that many of our generation have fallen short of his definition.

In fact, I think if we are seeking a heroic marriage in one of our heroic leaders, we might have to go all the way back to Abraham Lincoln and his tender care, for life, of his mentally ill wife. That was a touching story, for his generation and for ours. However, no president of the modern era could ever have a mentally ill wife in the White House, under the constant scrutiny of videographers. So let’s just put Lincoln in a hero class of his own forever.

I will get back to my point, with apologies for the digression. Having been raised in the culture of the 1970’s, it is necessary for me to denounce the things I was taught about Dr. King, the things people said to try to disqualify him as a hero. It is necessary for me to address those things because some members of my generation still believe them and still repeat them. I have come to vehemently disagree with those views and with those people.

Dr. King was a hero. He was willing to be jailed for his beliefs. He personified non-violent resistance. No one could dismiss him. No one could shake him. He changed our world.

Not enough change, yet, but he changed our world in many significant ways. I believe that I owe most of my warm, easy friendships with people of all races in the Navy to Dr. King’s leadership and influence.

So watch the video. Watch the introduction where blacks and whites together, with the men all clad in suits on a sweltering August day, march arm-in-arm into Washington singing “We Shall Overcome Some Day . . .”

Watch the video and weep for our potential.


Fiftieth Anniversary of the March on Washington

20 Aug

It is amazing to me that next week we commemorate the passing of fifty years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s great “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. It was actually the same year JFK was assassinated, only in August, so three months earlier than the assassination (and five years before MLK Jr. himself was assassinated). Such brutal times, but such hope shone from the life of Dr. Martin Luther King (and JFK’s life, too).

History Monday: Happy Birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

21 Jan

I love history!  I love when history dovetails in remarkable ways.  January 15, 1929 marked the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., later to gain his doctorate and later to become the leader of the civil rights movement in the U.S.  Amazing that he would have been 84, eh?

January 21, 2012 is a federal holiday to mark his birth.  It is also the second inauguration of Barack Obama, America’s first black president.  I say black because our mixed race president has a black wife and identifies as black now.  Those who want to quibble about him being raised in white culture by white grandparents are free to post your own blog article on that.  I regard that as a red herring argument.

January 20 is the anniversary of:  FDR’s second inauguration in 1937, FDR’s fourth inauguration in 1945, JFK’s inauguration in 1961, and Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration in 1981.  I am a staunch conservative, but my mind is boggled by the brilliance of the five men I have mentioned thus far, Dr. King, FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama.  

With great brilliance and high leadership goes great responsibility.  I am firmly in favor of holding our leadership accountable for their decisions.  I especially believe there is a place for the loyal opposition.  Right now, I am mostly the loyal opposition to our current president, about to be inaugurated again.  

This year marks 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation (right after midnight on January 1, 1863).  That is the origin of watchnight church services on New Year’s Eve.  Black slave churches in the South knew the Proclamation was about to be released at midnight and waited up for it together!  This year our National Archives remained open all New Year’s Eve to display the original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.  See how cool history is??!!

This year also marks 50 years since Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial (starting his speech with “Five score years ago . . .”).  August 28, 1963.  We will commemorate that this summer.

Tomorrow marks 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 1973.  I believe that has a separate aspect of the freedom cause to it (“You can’t be free if you are never allowed to be born”) which I will leave for another day and another post (or more than one!).

For today, I see Barack Obama in the shadow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who is in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln.  Without the preceding history, none of these men would have stood as they did, remarkable men in history!!!

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