Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-68)

“Wait sounds Never to my ears”; (Mar. 2, 2010)

            Responding to a letter from White preachers in Alabama considering Martin Luther King activities “unconsidered and tempestuous” he wrote from his prison in Birmingham in 1963 this letter:

            “Any non-violent campaign has to satisfy four stages: first, gather facts of injustices; second, start negotiation; third, endeavor auto-purification; and fourth, set up a program for direct action.  Birmingham is a city where segregation is the most rigorous among the other cities: Courts reserve notorious public injustices toward Blacks; many attacks on private properties and Black churches go unpunished; and the White political figures refuse to negotiate in good faith.

            We have got to set up a direct action plan to pressure for a just negotiation.  We discovered that we never obtained a single civil right if not after resolute pressures, legal, and non-violent. Privilege classes never cede their prerogatives without constant constraints since groups lack individual morale values.

            For years, we have been hearing “Wait”; this “Wait” means “Never” to my ears.  When 20 million Blacks suffocate in fetid poverty within opulent society; when you walk quietly the street and not knowing when injustice will hit you next; when you fight the devastating feeling of being considered as nobody, then you comprehend that it is no longer appropriate to wait.  I am convinced that if the non-violence dimension was not prevalent in Black churches then blood would be flowing on the streets in the south.  The ultimate weakness of violence is a descending spiral that generates the destruction of what it seeked to destroy.  Instead of weakening evil it multiplies it.  Violence may kill the liar but it neither kills the lie nor re-establishing truth” (Letters from the prison of Birmingham, 1963)

            A mass non-violent demonstration flooded the streets of Birmingham in 1963; it was squashed violently.  More than 3,000 Black demonstrators were put in jail; King was among them.  Martin Luther King was jailed 20 times for various durations; the prison term in Birmingham lasted 140 days.

            Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-68) was born in the State of Georgia, a grandson and son of a preacher; he didn’t suffer or experience the miseries of the southern Blacks; he wrote his PhD thesis at the seminary of Crozer in Pennsylvania “Comparison of the concept of God between Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”

            It happened that in 1955 another Black woman, Rosa Parks, defied the transport regulation of segregating passengers in Montgomery (Alabama); Parks refused to cede her place to a White passenger.  This time around, Blacks were ready to react.  King and another preacher demanded the boycott of the bus company. King said: “We are tired of maltreatments. We have been too patient so far. One of the glories of democracy is that people have the right to protest.  Our protest will be conducted non-violently.  Love of the neighbor is our rule.”

            The boycott lasted 382 days and the bus company changed its rules to avoid bankruptcy. The Supreme Court ruled that segregation in transport is not constitutional.  For 11 years, King traveled more than 10 million km, crisscrossed the USA and traveled to many countries and delivered over 2,500 public speeches. King fame spread overseas and inland; he delivered 208 public speeches in 1957 alone and was invited by Kwame Nkrumah to Accra to celebrate the newly acquired independence of Ghana.  President Eisenhower received King in private audience in 1957.  Pope Paul 6 received him in the Vatican in 1964, shortly before King was awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

            Dr. Martin Luther King was not conversant with the Black northern States problems: the segregation there was class segregation (ghetto life) of the worst kind.  Black leaders in the north and people in Harlem lambasted King’s approachs to their different problems.  Malcolm X understood King’s non-violence program but correctly comprehended that White authorities tactically viewed King’s movement as a lesser evil and favored it to the more radical movements demanding separate State for Blacks.  Malcolm X had this prophecy “Sure, my methods are radically opposed to King’s non-violence that has the merit of exposing the brutality of White racial system but in the current climate I am wondering which one of us will be assassinated first.”  Malcolm X was assassinated 4 years before King.  Like all activists, they didn’t reach the age of 40.  The White authorities decided that it was King’s turn to be assassinated when his non-violence movement lagged behind the radical movements.  

            Stokely Carmichael who instituted the Comity of non-violent students (SNCC) broke out with the “evangelical sweetness” of King and launched the order for “Black Power” against “institutional and structural racism”.  Fannie Lou Hamer pronounced during a congress for racial equality “While King is dreaming I am having nightmares”.  By 1965, King and Ralph Abernathy decided to relocate to the poor quarters in Chicago.  King’s non-violent movement was losing momentum to the radical Black movements. Abernathy could not sustain for long the rough life in the ghetto and moved out to breath easier.

            After the mass rally in Washington DC where 250,000 gathered to hear King saying: “I had a dream that, one day, the State of Mississippi, aflame in injustices and oppressions, is transformed into an oasis of liberty and justice.  I had a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of ancient slaves and the sons of ancient owners of slaves will sit down together at the table of fraternity” the non-violence movement lost momentum because nothing major moved in civil rights demands as during the Kennedy Administration.

            The moment King was assassinated in 1968, 150 cities throughout the USA were set ablaze.  The Federal government and all the States guards ordered tens of thousands of soldiers to tame the mass revolts. The revolts registered 46 killed, 3,000 injured, 2,000 buildings burned, and 23,000 arrests.

            Dr. Martin Luther King published “Combats for liberty, 1958”, “Non-violent revolutions”, “The power of love, 1963”, “where from here? 1967” and “Why we can’t wait? 1964”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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