On this day in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, TN. At just 39 years old, the face of the Civil Rights Movement was killed in cold blood leaving millions of people around the country distraught. How far have we come since Dr. King was murdered?
We’re still climbing.
In Dr. King’s last speech he said, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.
And I don’t mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”
The state of race relations today has gotten much better. The pinnacle of such is having a black man elected to the highest office in the land. Most thought the ability of Americans to vote for an African-American man as President of the United States (Twice!), signaled a changing of the guard. President Obama’s election almost worked against us in some ways because it put people to sleep. People honestly believe that racism no longer exists because of his milestone. The rise of President Trump should tell otherwise.
We’re still climbing.
When Dr. King was around, there was a very clear, age-old message being sent to blabck people: You guys are inferior. Dr. King challenged the status quo and called for massive change. He was killed for doing so. After his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, the FBI labeled King “The most dangerous negro.” Why? Because people listened to a message the government didn’t want them to hear.
Black Lives Matter started around the time Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman with Zimmerman being acquitted of murder charges in 2013. Since Trayvon’s killing, a laundry list of African-Americans have been killed by police/vigilantes with the good majority of said cases (the ones that catch on to mainstream media anyway) being able to walk away scot-free. Case after case comes with no charges filed or no indictment. In the event that cases actually make a jury trial, the assailants are acquitted reinforcing the very clear, but age-old message to the black community: You guys are inferior.
We’re still climbing
I’ve previously written about my grievances with today’s depiction of Dr. King. Many people I run into people who are quick to quote Dr. King, trying to apply his words in today’s societal climate, ignore the times he lived. I can’t help but think those who love to quote Dr. King out of context – which ultimately skews his message – would have been vehemently against him had they been around in his day.
50 years ago today, Dr. King was murdered for speaking truth. He was a great man who was feared by elected officials because of the power he wielded to bring people together for change. While life has gotten better for African-Americans, we have not reached the promised land. Systems of racism are largely in tact, and they need to be addressed. Don’t skew Dr. King’s message in an effort to ignore current day problems. Embrace the message.
Help me climb this mountain.