Monday, January 15, 2018

Whitewashing MLK Day

I got quite the chuckle when I saw a link to a Fox News story in my Twitter feed decrying the "media" for politicizing Martin Luther King day. According to the sages at Fox, today is a day to celebrate national unity, not divisiveness.

That, my friends, is the biggest attempt to whitewash MLK day since national chain stores began running MLK day specials.

King is now revered among some on the right side of the spectrum because he preached non-violence - and because he's now dead. During the 1960's those on the right side of the political spectrum called him a rabble rouser, a Communist and an assortment of names I'm not going to print.

Dr. King's work wasn't about "national unity," it was about black folk in this country getting on equal footing with their oppressors. Dr. King was hated by white folk all around the country and particularly by those in the political establishment in the South.

Those on the right love to quote from Dr. King's Washington Mall speech in which he spoke about young black children and young white children living in a world of equal opportunity. What they never cared for was the struggle for those young black children to get to the same starting line as their white counterparts.

The right also doesn't want to talk about Dr. King's Poor Person Campaign, his work against the Vietnam War and his work with labor organizers in the South. Never forget that King was assassinated the day after speaking to a group of striking sanitation workers in Memphis.

What apparently has Fox all in a tizzy is this cover of The New Yorker magazine that depicts Dr. King also with Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett kneeling. Fox would like you to believe that Dr. King was a non-threatening black preacher who spoke in generalities about someday black and white folk being judged on their merits and not the color of their skin.

Fox would like you to forget about the protests. They would like you to forget about firefighters turning water hoses on peaceful protesters. They would like you to forget about police officers turning their dogs loose on peaceful protesters. They would like you to forget about police officers beating peaceful protesters on the Edmund Pettis Bridge. They would like you to forget about the struggle for black folks to vote. They would like you to forget that these events occurred in the 1960's. That's within our lifetime.

Dr. King's life wasn't about national unity. His life was about the struggle for equality. And struggle means protest. It means making those in power feel uncomfortable. It means asking difficult questions. And that's what the whitewashers are trying to hide.

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