Beyond "I Have A Dream"—The Dr. King you don't hear

Beyond "I Have A Dream"—The Dr. King you don't hear

Recently, it's become a staple of Martin Luther King Day commemorations to remind the nation that Dr. King was more than "I Have A Dream". The sentiments expressed in that seminal address are the ones which the comfortable cling on to in order to avoid harsh realities. "I Have A Dream" was aspiration; but Dr. King knew much festered and would have to be cured before it became a reality.

But we don't discuss the other things he said, because the dominant myth is of a conciliatory Negro who didn't want to offend the feelings of white people. Dr. King was anything but. So, on this 2018 Martin Luther King Day, a few of his less-well-known quotes which laid out the problems which would have to be solved before the utopia of his Washington, DC oration could be realized.

(All quotes from this article on Alternet: 9 MLK Quotes the Mainstream Media Won't Cite.)

Why is equality so assiduously avoided? Why does white America delude itself, and how does it rationalize the evil it retains?

The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class Utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity. - “Where Do We Go From Here”, 1967
I contend that the cry of “Black Power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. - Interview with Mike Wallace, 1966
But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?...It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity. - “The Other America”, 1968
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. - “Beyond Vietnam”, 1967
Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans…These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races. Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash. - “Where Do We Go From Here”

A reminder as the creature in the White House issued a proclamation for Martin Luther King Day that this man, this American, cannot be reduced to simple pieties. Like the prophets of Israel, he combined a vision of hope with clear and candid assessment of current problems.



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