Forty years ago on April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King was slain by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee. The universal frustration African Americans felt led into riots across the country. Perhaps the biggest was in Washington D.C. African Americans were fed up with having their leaders slain. Death fueled by racism visited the doorstep of Medgar (spelling) Evers in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965 and unfortunately King’s fate followed.
I was five days old when King met his maker. As I quietly celebrated my fortieth birthday last Saturday I wondered what the climate was like in Fort Wayne and around the country the day King was slain. I asked my parents what they remembered. They both suggested it was a dark day the African American community.
Are we any closer today in realizing King’s Dream of universal harmony irrespective of color?
I don’t think so.
I think the time has come to finally create a comprehensive plan rather than to rely on King’s dream of forty years ago.
The apex of King’s activism was in the 1960’s when racism was rampant and overt. African Americans were subject to separate but unequal accommodations: there was no universal inclusion. African American churches were being fire-bombed, and African Americans were being lynched. Marchers and protesters were attacked by dogs for non-violently demonstrating while seeking to secure their rights.
Today strides have been made on social, economical, and political fronts but it’s not where it should be. Racism is still pervasive. Though African Americans are no longer lynched or expected to use separate restrooms racism still looms in a more subtle fashion: that makes it more dangerous and difficult to detect when compared to King’s era.
Leadership is extremely vital: if it wasn’t the great ones like King and Malcolm wouldn’t have been slain. King was killed because he was trying to unite people. Malcolm was gunned down because he was preparing to take the United States to the world court for it’s mistreatment of African Americans.
African Americans, have problems we need to address before we fully assemble and garner the universal respect we are due. When leadership falters or is absent there’s no universal focus-our collective ambition wanes and people stop dreaming.
Since King was slain no one has stepped up and taken the torch. Someone needs to ascend to provide African Americans with some direction that can be utilized for future generations to heed.
King is arguably the best leader we’ve had. He died for what he believed in to create a better situation for us all. But I think it’s time to convert King’s dream into a comprehensive plan of action that makes sense.
Using the same restrooms as whites, begging whites to take our money for their services, paying twice as much for homes to live in the same neighborhood as whites wasn’t intelligent in my view. Too much emphasis was placed on integration rather than taking care of ourselves economically.
Over time we’ve been methodically lulled to sleep by the idea of social harmony when we as African Americans need harmony amongst ourselves.
To make King’s dream a reality we must march to a different beat. King wanted harmony without providing us a concrete way to achieve it. I think we need to take the seeds King planted and cultivate them into a blueprint for success.
King gave us a dream but it’s up to us to make it real by creating a logical path to make his vision truly come to light.