Monday, April 4, 2011

Returning U.S. to the Mountaintop

IN THIS MOMENT, we find ourselves 43 years removed from an event that found an iconic African American leader struck down by an assassin's bullet and a social movement that seemed to have been left without a leader.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on this day in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.  He had once again, been called to service, to lead another group of people over troubled waters.  This time King had been called to lead a group of African American sanitation workers in the acquisition of equal pay with their white sanitation workers.  Unlike previous marches, the protesters within the group became rowdy and individuals were injured, hurt, and one person had been killed.  As a result, the police were called to disperse the growing crowd.  Distressed, King took up lodging at the Lorraine Motel to rest, where he would subsequently be shot on it's balcony at 6:01pm.  Martin Luther King was 39.

Often times, we like to cherry-pick our way through United States history and narratives of people to fashion what we like the most.  We have seen both Conservatives and Liberals, over the years, pulling at the fabric of the King Legacy. We most often see this during elections cycles, as politicians search for iconic figures to use to support their positions.  Like then, political forces were tearing apart at labor.  These forces made labor out to be the villains in the United States' growing economic problems.  Again, we find ourselves in a problematic economy.  Currently, the GOP is referring to these people, as a special interest group, as opposed to who they are, the backbone of America.  We see teachers being bashed in the media, as being solely responsible for our failing school systems.  Yet, all Americans, is the educational system.  We also see, the most vulnerable protesting the power of their government from Wisconsin, to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other places around the world.  The United States, also finds itself involved in three wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya), not to mention Cold War posts around the world.  Today, Barack Obama (44th President of the United States of America), choose this day to officially launch his re-election campaign for 2012.

Returning back to April of 1968, a distressed and not feeling well King delivered a speech (I've Been to the Mountaintop) at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ.  This speech used biblical references and along with four specific areas of thought; the sanitation strike, the Civil Rights Movement, the ideas of economic boycotts, and he used language that seemed to foreshadow his death.  While the characters are different along with the "movement" but the context remains the same. Today, we see workers striking in Wisconsin, social movements of people in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya are all demanding better treatment from their government.  These people are going to audacious lengths to earn this equal treatment.

Our nation finds itself today, triangulated by a; tittering economy, three wars, and various topics in our continuing domestic culture wars.  On this day that rocked a nation 43 years ago, we should return back to King's "Mountaintop."  Instead of gleaning from the speech, a few sound-bites, perhaps we should ask, what was happening then?  What is happening that is simialr now?  What did he see?  What do I see?  What should I do differently?  Then, we must apply these words to our daily lives, in our interactions with each other, our neighbors, and globally.  It will be at that moment, which we will return U.S. back to the "Mountaintop."

No comments: