MLK Jr. Day thread

SuperMatt

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I should have posted this earlier or perhaps over the weekend. Here is a snippet from MLK’s final Sunday sermon, at Washington National Cathedral. Feel free to share favorite speeches, quotes, thoughts, or anything else if you want.

Now there is another myth that still gets around: it is a kind of over reliance on the bootstrap philosophy. There are those who still feel that if the Negro is to rise out of poverty, if the Negro is to rise out of the slum conditions, if he is to rise out of discrimination and segregation, he must do it all by himself. And so they say the Negro must lift himself by his own bootstraps.

They never stop to realize that no other ethnic group has been a slave on American soil. The people who say this never stop to realize that the nation made the black man’s color a stigma. But beyond this they never stop to realize the debt that they owe a people who were kept in slavery two hundred and forty-four years.

In 1863 the Negro was told that he was free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation being signed by Abraham Lincoln. But he was not given any land to make that freedom meaningful. It was something like keeping a person in prison for a number of years and suddenly discovering that that person is not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. And you just go up to him and say, "Now you are free," but you don’t give him any bus fare to get to town. You don’t give him any money to get some clothes to put on his back or to get on his feet again in life.

Every court of jurisprudence would rise up against this, and yet this is the very thing that our nation did to the black man. It simply said, "You’re free," and it left him there penniless, illiterate, not knowing what to do. And the irony of it all is that at the same time the nation failed to do anything for the black man, though an act of Congress was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest. Which meant that it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor.

But not only did it give the land, it built land-grant colleges to teach them how to farm. Not only that, it provided county agents to further their expertise in farming; not only that, as the years unfolded it provided low interest rates so that they could mechanize their farms. And to this day thousands of these very persons are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies every years not to farm. And these are so often the very people who tell Negroes that they must lift themselves by their own bootstraps. It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.

We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice.

Full transcript here:


Video here:
 
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ronntaylor

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Somehow missed this thread. I'm actually getting sick and tired of MLK Day. It's a farce from both the left and right. Too much of his message is boiled down to a couple lines from his "I Have a Dream" speech delivered at the March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom. It wasn't even his planned speech for the march (which he nearly skipped altogether). Mahalia Jackson yelled at him to "tell them about your dream Martin" when he was fumbling with his prepared remarks.

I don't understand why Black people need to go out and perform community service on MLK Day. If anything, they should get to spend quiet time with family and friends as with most holidays. Especially if it will involve pointless parades, services and speeches. Down here in Virginia I participated in my local city's MLK Day "parade" which took all of 15 minutes. No speeches, inane signs and some idiot blaring soccer chants on her bullhorn while she rung her cowbell. My first and last MLK Day "parade" for sure.
 

Nycturne

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I don't understand why Black people need to go out and perform community service on MLK Day.

Maybe me as an ignorant person is misunderstanding sarcasm here, but are you talking about all the prep work for these parades/etc?
 

ronntaylor

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Maybe me as an ignorant person is misunderstanding sarcasm here, but are you talking about all the prep work for these parades/etc?
It includes that. Often these "celebrations" impose extra work on Black people. Whether academics that are charged with planning, implementing and leading these so-called celebrations without credit and/or payment; or just regular folk that are tired of having to teach non-Black folk. It's really a burden and should be incumbent on others to do the work, or share the work.

And really: if Black people want to simply take the day off like they do for other holidays, there should be no guilt or hard feelings. Especially since the day is essentially a whitewash of King's life and philosophy.

My Virginia city finally started celebrating MLK Day as a paid holiday less than a decade ago. They still celebrate Lee-Jackson Day (which is really at least two days, the Friday and Saturday before MLK Day now; before it was Saturday, Sunday and Monday as a paid holiday). There is an official parade for L-J Day. (And for the first few years, an unofficial parade that followed the route of the MLK Day parade in a show of antagonism by confederatefucks) and the MLK Day parade passed under the confederate banner on Monday. Just totally exhausting and not worth the effort really.
 

Nycturne

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Okay, so I was reading your post properly. Sorry, I managed to get myself confused trying to decide if "community service" was meant in the way you describe here, or if there was some other context I was completely ignorant of.

And yeah, it's not like the "enlightened" areas of the US are much better. Seattle sits in King County. A county named after William R. King. For those who don't know who that is, he's a pro-slavery politician who fought the abolitionists tooth and nail in the 1800s and was Vice President at one point. Ron Sims, who sat as the county executive for 12 years before joining the Obama administration, had been part of an effort to rededicate the county after MLK Jr instead. That effort starting in 1985, and finally succeeding around the time Obama got elected. When you elect a person of color to lead the county, but can't be bothered to maybe not continue honoring a slaver? *sigh*

And that doesn't even get into all the appropriation of indigenous peoples' culture in the area. Yay?

I do miss Sims though. His policies and efforts in our county are still important today, and stuff he built and protected I use over a decade after he left the post. He also was trying to protect native plant species at a time when nobody cared, and instead sued the crap out of the county when he tried to enact policies trying to preserve native plants. Even now we are slowly catching on and fixing that.
 
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