Donald Trump and MLK III
When the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior made his famous I have a Dream speech in Washington all those years ago, it seemed to have fallen on death ears. It was not for lack of trying, his hopes and aspirations were laid out as eloquently as human hand could deliver.
Rev. King (MLK), like all great men, was driven by allegiance to an idea. While Lord Acton is right, most great the great men of history were also bad men, King did not fit in that mold. For certain, he had failures and morale stains, but so does everyone. What makes men great is not their lack of shortcomings, but the fact they overcame them. The same can be said of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and all the great men of the America’s last two hundred and odd years. It was what drove these men, and their ability to persevere against the odds, that made them who they were. King stood where others faltered, never losing sight of his goal and what it meant for all Americans.
What many fail to understand, and that includes many of his followers, is that for MLK the civil rights struggle was not his goal, only a step stone on a much longer path. The fight against Jim Crow and segregation were battles in the war for brotherhood. As he said, his dream was that one day the “son’s of former slaves and the son’s of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” In many ways, his proteges have abandoned this dream, and instead continued to concentrate on stepping stones now long laid.
The harsh truth is, in warfare their are profiteers who find personal gain from conflict. This was no less true in the civil rights battles. Many who marched with King became wealthy. For them, remaining relevant meant they had to engage in continual warfare. This was essential if they were to retain their celebrity status and money that entailed. Whether they intentionally thought about it or not, they had to abandon Martin’s Dream to fulfill their own.
Consequently, Reverend King’s dream seems to be getting farther away. A direct result of continuing the “struggle.” Once the legal battles were won, the healing balm of community should have taken over. This was what King wanted. Unfortunately, his death, like that of Lincoln, prevented post war healing to take place. Instead of issuing in an era of cooperation and friendship, the comrades of Martin Luther King have stoked the fires of hatred, and tried to divide America at every turn.
Included in this list is civil rights icon Representative Lewis of Georgia. His refusal to accept Trump’s election, and subsequent declaration that he would not be at the inauguration, is par for him. Despite his actions over a half century ago, he has done little over the last 40 odd years to raise up anyone. More often than not, he has played a partisan hack. A sad state of affairs, given the potential he had for bringing the healing the Reverend King so much desired.
This week, given it begins with Martin Luther King day and ends with a Presidential inauguration, it is fitting to remember what these occasions are all about. The first is a celebration of a man who fought to bring the country together as one, and the second a celebration, as a country, of the country’s unbroken chain of peaceful power transition. In contrast to the spoiled lot protesting Trump’s inauguration, or refusing to participate in it, the two events bookend what it means to be American. “Let Freedom Ring” being the common thread that binds the two together, they symbolize the promise America represents.
It is time to renew the promise of this land. For those, in whose hearts King’s dream still lives, may the hope of Monday intertwine with the promise of Friday. It is long past time to create a new day of renewed hope, and let the country finally heal.
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