Saturday, May 25, 2024

MLK would have something to say about today’s America

January 20, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( There will be a lot of celebrations Monday to honor the life of one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. His life was tragically cut short by hatred at the young age of 39.

It is easy to put aside old grudges and prejudices on the day that honors a man of courage and peace. The real test comes after Monday ends, when the speeches are finished. I wonder what Dr. King would think about America in 2008? I am sure he would look with pride at an America that might elect its first African American or female as president. I am equally certain he would look with sadness at a black community with 63 percent of households headed by women — a community where more black men are in prison than are in college.

Remember, Dr. King was first and foremost a preacher, and he would want us to love one another and forgive one another. He would remind us of the redemptive power of the human spirit, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

I believe he would tell white people that you do not have to be afraid of people who look different from you. He would say that even people who are here illegally are made in the image and likeness of God.

I believe that he would tell African-American fathers to stop abandoning their children, and to put the needs of their children before their own. These children did not ask to come here, but they are God’s greatest gifts who deserve to be loved and protected.

He would scold politicians and demand that they act with all deliberate speed to fully fund education, feed the hungry and clothe the naked.

Dr. King would wonder out loud how in the richest country on Earth we have millions of Americans without health insurance.

He would look at a culture that glorifies violence, sex and money and urge — no, demand — that we do better because we can do better. I believe he would condemn the type of rap music that uses words to hurt and demean people, particularly women.

Dr. King would notice the similarities between America in 2008 and America in 1968. Then, as now, the nation was in the midst of a presidential election. Forty years ago, we were involved in an unjust war that we could not win. Sounds familiar.

The issues of race and poverty continue to stain the American soul, as they did in Dr. King’s time.

I believe he would tell young African-American men to work hard, study hard, speak proper English and be respectful toward their elders. He would tell young women not to dress too provocatively, and to honor their bodies as well as their minds.

Dr. King would have acknowledged and thanked people who volunteer to make this world a better place.

I am afraid he would look at this world with a heavy heart and tears in his eyes. He would then remind everyone that God will have the final say, and all we have to do is our part and he will do his.

He would be reminded by his wife, Coretta Scott King, that while going through his personal effects, she found a quote from a 17-year-old basketball player that said, “I sought my soul but my soul I could not see. I sought my God but he eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three.”

Dr. King would have looked at her and smiled.

Written By Walter Backstrom

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