Today is the thirty-second National Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, which President Ronald Reagan (As in all of my posts, underlined words are links.) signed into law on November 2, 1983.
Last Saturday my girlfriend and I attended Augusta’s Martin Luther King, Jr. parade and as I do every time I go, I wondered how this parade benefits Black African Americans. There were floats, marching bands, along with various religious and social groups. They even had a large contingent of Buffalo Soldiers motor cycle club members from various states, along with Black African American Cowboys on horseback.
Those in the parade tossed candy into the streets for our little Black African American children to rush out and pick up, which I was among a very tiny minority that found this degrading. Yet, I still wondered how all of this benefitted Black African Americans. As I wrote in a previous post, “Black African Americans Have Become Processionary Caterpillars,” and this was one more example.
For me, this parade gave me an opportunity for reflection. Another reason for attending was to network and promote my blog and I was glad I went because I had a chance to talk with a couple of people I have not seen in decades. We all shared the same mind-set; once a year, we decide to honor Reverend, Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., by prancing down the street, carrying banners and tossing candy to our children.
The attendance was much smaller than previous years, although the weather was fine and I began reflecting on how few people actually support and honor Dr. King today. Many of us, who honor him today, did not support him when he was alive-and I am one of them.
Growing up in Philadelphia, in 1967 I had an opportunity to go to a church two blocks from my home to hear Dr. King speak, and I chose not to go. During that time in my life, Dr. King’s views were opposite mine, because I was no longer a Christian, nor was I non-violent.
The thought of allowing a White person to hit, kick, spit, throw objects on me or even curse me and my remaining non-violent was very absurd. So no, I was never a supporter of Dr. King during his lifetime, nor would I be a supporter of him if he were alive today and he maintained his belief in non-violent, passive resistance.
I vividly recall that Friday night, April 4, 1968 when I heard the radio DJ announce that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been executed. I was working for a racist Greek American couple who owned a restaurant on Germantown (off Lehigh Ave.) Ave. in North Philadelphia, by the name of “Arthur’s Doghouse.”
I had been working for them since September 1967 as a dishwasher, earning $40.00 a week for a 40-hour workweek. During my first few weeks working there, I was given the unwashed white uniforms of the cook, when they became too dirty for him to wear, until I earned enough money to buy my own “used” uniforms from the thrift store.
Every Friday night, I had to help dismantle the grill for cleaning and they instructed me not to throw away any hot dogs, hamburgers or other meats that I might find behind the grill because they used it for Saturday’s Bar B Que. They also forbade me from throwing away uneaten food in the plates of customers, because this too would be recycled. Did I say the vast majority of their customers were Black African Americans?
On the night of Dr. King’s execution, I was standing in the kitchen, feeling my rage build up in me towards all White Americans, when “Ms. Katharine” came in and asked me to come and sit out front with them, while they finished their duties. She said, “Don’t worry about finishing in the kitchen, Crow (a very dark-skinned brother on dayshift) will get them in the morning.”
She asked me to sit on the front stool at the counter, while they hurriedly went about making Saturday’s Bar B Que and pretending to be in shock and pain that a White man had killed our “Black Prince of Peace.” There was no doubt in my 17-year old mind that they were “playing me.” The only reason they wanted me sitting on the first stool near the window was because of my big beautiful Afro. I was there as a showpiece in hopes of preventing the brothers and sisters from looting and burning their restaurant.
The longer I sat there listening to her, the more I thought about their blatant acts of racism I had endured while trying to help put food on my family’s table and attending high school at the same time. I could not take it any longer, so I told them exactly what I thought about them and their “Doghouse,” then I walked out into the riot. “Ms. Katherine” came to the door and pleaded with me to wait until they finished and they would drive me home. She even offered to pay me an extra $10.00 if I came back in and waited for them.
All I could think about was just a few weeks earlier, I asked her for a meager $.25 (twenty-five) cent per hour raise ($1.25/hour) and she said they could not afford it. I cursed her out and told her to shove that $10.00 up her …, and walked away with her threatening to call my mother and tell on me.
When I finally got home the night of April 4th, I knew Ms. Katherine would never call my mother, nor did I ever have to go back to work at “Arthur’s Doghouse.” I knew this for a certainty because I knew that “Arthur’s Doghouse” was no more. It had been looted and completely destroyed by person or persons unknown.
Wow! I had not given much thought to that Friday night in April of 1968 in nearly forty years; what an excellent catharsis remembering can be.
I grew up in Philadelphia, Pa., which is one of the most violent cities in America, in addition to living in America, the most violent nation in the history of the world, as evidenced by America dropping not one, but two nuclear bombs on another human being.
At the time of Dr. King’s death, the Vietnam War was raging viciously and I was certain I would be drafted into that war. After all, my high school alma mater, Thomas Alva Edison has the dubious distinction of having the highest mortality rate than any other American high school in the Vietnam War.
All during the turbulent 60s, I was a fanatical student of America’s history of White Supremacy and Jim Crow. I was never able to embrace the concept of non-violent, passive resistance because Black African Americans were the only ones expected to conform to nonviolence when it came to begging for our rights as American citizens.
On the other hand, Black African Americans were ordered to become extremely violent when fighting America’s wars of alleged “liberation” for so-called oppressed people in other countries. Black African Americans were commanded to become violent during the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
For some strange and unknown reason (wink, wink), we were mandated to fight the war against White Supremacy and Jim Crow passively, peacefully and nonviolently. For the most part, many Black African Americans were obedient to nonviolent protest and peaceful resistance, but I was not one of them.
After attending Saturday’s parade, I decided Dr. King would be the subject of my next post, so once home, I let my fingers do the walking, strolling through the World Wide Web. The downside to using the “web” is the never-ending links to more and more pertinent information. It is just like that pink bunny, the information keeps coming and coming and coming-with no end in sight and like the Pac Man emoticon, I could not gobble it up fast enough. I finally forced myself to stop reading and start writing.
I was glad of my research, because I learned more about Dr. King than I ever knew. I always suspected that Dr. King did not have much support among Black African Americans and I was correct. As late as 1968, Dr. King was garnering at best, approximately 13% of support from Black African American churches.
Put another way, nearly 87% of Black African American churches and the majority of their congregations refused to support or follow Dr. King during his lifetime. However, their reasons were different from mine. These Christian followers of Jesus Christ, allegedly a White man, were too AFRAID to follow Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Black African American man into “Canaan Land!”
In spite of their religious convictions, and dogma, their fears were deeply rooted in the power of White American males and the total control they had over the bodies, minds and lives of Black African Americans.
The number of Black African American churches who are supportive of Dr. King is not that much different today in 2015, although they may give lip service to supporting him. The only difference is that their reason for not supporting his doctrine is not fear, but MONEY.
Too many of our churches have become ensnared by President George W. Bush’s FBI – Faith Based Initiatives which gives them “free” government money. They dare not bite the hand that feeds them by protesting against America’s “New Jim Crow”, less they lose their place at the “FBI’s” money trough.
In my research, I learned that on February 4, 1968, Dr. King gave his “Drum Major Instinct” speech, which I call, “His Eulogy Speech,” because he told us exactly what he wanted and did not want said during his eulogy. Did we listen? Absolutely not! When Dr. King preached his own eulogy, he said the following: “Every now and then I guess we all think realistically (Yes, sir) about that day when we will be victimized with what is life’s final common denominator—that something that we call death. We all think about it. And every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don’t think of it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself, “What is it that I would want said?” And I leave the word to you this morning.
If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)
I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes) I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen) I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes) And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes) I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord) I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that’s all I want to say.”
Instead of granting his last request, every year for the last 47 years, we speak about all of those things he asked us not to speak about. We repeatedly talk about all of his awards, while singing that tired old song, “We Shall Overcome Some Day,” without any clue as to when that “Some Day” will be; nor what it is that “We Shall Overcome.”
What do you suppose Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say about the hundreds of weekly murders of Black African Americans by other Black African Americans? What do you suppose Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say about Black African American males walking up and down our streets showing their behinds by “saggin,” or our Black African American females dressing like “hoochies” while wearing “skittles-colored hair?
What do you suppose Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say about the high Black African American school dropout rate and the high prison incarceration rate? What do you suppose Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say about the morally and spiritually bankrupt status of Black African Americans today? What do you suppose Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say about the financial state of Black African Americans today?
During my research, I learned that I was wrong about Dr. King. From the first time I heard his name, I erroneously believed he was a contributing factor to the financial detriment of the Black African American race because I mistakenly believed he failed to stress the importance of economic growth and financial unity.
During Dr. King’s last public speech on April 3, 1968, he said the following: “It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.
We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively — that means all of us together — collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine.
We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada.
We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”
As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain.
But not only that, we’ve got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a “bank-in” movement in Memphis.”
Dr. Martin King, Jr. went to Memphis, Tennessee on the last day of his life and preached the necessity of pooling our financial dollars and spending it among ourselves. As he said, once pooled, our wealth is the equivalent of the ninth richest nation on this planet. Ambassador Andrew Young, his “frat brother” was sitting right there when he said it, yet, he and his other “frat brothers” did just the opposite of Dr. King’s wishes and mandate.
Instead of heeding Dr. King’s mandates by giving our dollar$ $ome $ense, we have lost our financial minds. Shortly after his birthday became a federal holiday, his fraternity brothers (Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity Inc.) embarked on the most fiscally irresponsible task ever undertaken by Black African Americans.
First, the Alpha Phi Alpha leadership negotiated a $120,000,000.00 deal to build a memorial on the mall in Washington, D.C. Before anything could be done, Dr. King’s children insisted on being paid (and they were paid) $800,000.00 for the use of his words and image.
Second, Alpha Phi Alpha then insulted every Black African American architect in the country, as well as every Black African architect in the world and selected Boris Dramov , a White Bulgarian American who is the president of the Roma Design Group to design the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial.
Third, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. again insulted every Black African American sculptor and every Black African sculptor throughout the Diaspora, by going all the way to Communist China and selected China’s renowned sculptor Lei Yixin. His name is written in his native language on the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument, for the world to see.
Go to the memorial’s website and figure out if you can read his name written in Chinese or if you can even pronounce his name. Do you think in 50 years that your progeny will be able to read and pronounce his name?
What makes this even more insulting to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the fact that all through his “civil rights” years, J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI slandered him as being a “Communist Agitator,” with the help of COINTELPRO. Then Alpha Phi Alpha leadership inferred it by hiring a Communist Chinese sculptor to create the single most greatest public tribute to African Americans in the world.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was so displeased with the wasted spending and hoopla in the guises of honoring him, as well as the excessive violence, racism and poverty that he asked God to send Hurricane Irene up the East Coast, forcing the cancellation of the originally scheduled dedication on August 25, 2011.
If he could speak to our hearts today, I can Imagine Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. saying to us, “Instead of squandering Black African American’s wealth by enriching those of other races and nationalities, Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity Inc. should have spent the $120,000,000.00 in creating jobs for Black African Americans.
Instead of spending that money on a “feel good” block of stone, they should have went to every major American city with a street or thoroughfare named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (in blighted neighborhoods) and built hotels in my honor. God knows that we Black African Americans love to hold conferences and conventions in other people’s facilities, why not build our own?”
When we teach our history, we must teach the entire history truthfully, come what may. Remember, whatever we teach about our history today, will become an indelible part of our history tomorrow. In order to keep the dream alive, we must remain asleep, because nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream.
Oh, what a blessing it is that my people do not read, think, or use common sense says the Pastors, Pimps and Politicians.