Stirring the Mind into Thought

“Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Often I think too many of us are focused on what makes us different instead of seeing what makes us the same within all those differences and how we are all connected; everything we do as individual affects everything in the world directly and indirectly. So for my next few posts I will be focusing on this…

February 5th, 2011 at 5:17 PM and tagged , , , ,  | Comments Off on We Are All Connected Part 1 | Permalink

“I Have a Dream” was a great speech, but I feel like people use it to oversimplify MLK. To make him fit into their neat little box. – Blitz the Ambassador (rapper)

Many think of Martin Luther King Jr. as the anti-Malcom X, but that is far from the truth, he was a radical. Civil disobedience did not use violence, but it was not complacent either, it was confrontational.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day, here is a post from Stuff White People Do (obviously not all white people) called “Sanitize MLK,” and links to other discussions on the “Santa Clausification” of Martin Luther King and some other things MLK said besides the “I Have a Dream” speech:


When white people look back in history, their view is often distorted because they’re wearing white-colored glasses.

As Andrew Golis says, Martin Luther King, Jr. was far more radical than we tend to remember him being:

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a democratic socialist.

He never called himself that in public. Cold War red-baiting was still powerful and haunted him even before his rhetoric turned to class. But his organizing was increasingly in that vein and in private he spoke of his support for democratic socialism. He was organizing a Poor People’s Campaign and talking about the necessity to build an interracial movement for economic justice.

This is one of the many challenging facts that is lost in what Cornell West calls the Santa Clausification of MLK:

He just becomes a nice little old man with a smile with toys in his bag, not a threat to anybody, as if his fundamental commitment to unconditional love and unarmed truth does not bring to bear certain kinds of pressure to a status quo. So the status quo feels so comfortable as though it’s a convenient thing to do rather than acknowledge him as to what he was, what the FBI said, “The most dangerous man in America.” Why? Because of his fundamental commitment to love and to justice and trying to keep track of the humanity of each and every one of us.

UPDATE: Jeff Cohen explains in fuller detail what white Americans prefer to forget about MLK. (link below)

UPDATE: A new memorial to King is being prepared for the national mall in Washington, D.C., and Chinese sculptor has won the statuary competition with a bold, assertive image of King.

Predictably, as Ibram Rogers writes at The Root, calls have arisen for a kinder, gentler image:

The night before he was assassinated in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously roared that he had “been to the mountaintop” and he had “seen the promised land” of freedom, justice, and equality.

That spirit in the final phase of King’s life has been captured brilliantly by Chinese sculptor, Lei Yixin, who was commissioned to design the centerpiece for King’s memorial on the National Mall in Washington. In his models for the statue, Lei captures King as a man firmly rooted in the inalienable rights of humanity, his arms folded, looking intensely for us to take hold of the tools he left us to climb to freedom’s mountaintop.

Now the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts which selected Lei has criticized his design and is recommending a more sympathetic rendering of King. The current, more defiant, rendering, the panel said, reflects a “genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries.” Commission secretary Thomas Luebke added, in a letter to the foundation responsible for the King Memorial, that “the proposed treatment of the sculpture – as the most iconographic and central element of the memorial to Dr. King – would be unfortunate and inappropriate as an expression of his legacy.”

In its simplest terms, the panel said the representation of King is too “confrontational.” At best, this assessment reflects historical ignorance. At worst, it seems tied to a larger societal effort to distort, co-opt, and water-down King’s legacy. . . .

Lei’s design is not only an accurate depiction of the image we should see of King in our historical memory, it is a prescient depiction of how King would likely confront the country now. (Link to The Root article below)


Ten Other Things Martin Luther King Said by Illdoc:

Santa Clausification of MLK:

Santa Clausification of MLK according to Cornell West:

Jeff Cohen:

The Root article on MLK stone:

Other Things that MLK said:

King’s “The Other America” Speech:

January 18th, 2010 at 7:06 PM and tagged , ,  | Comments Off on Martin Luther King is More than His “I Have a Dream” Speech | Permalink