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Stop Marching And Pick Up A History Book

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Dr. King because of the current mood of the country and how polarized people are. I recently re-listened to Dr. King’s final ‘I have been to the Mountaintop’ speech and was reminded that he was a figure larger than not only life, but time itself, bursting forth with cosmic vision. There will never be another.

Dr. King was a product of the 60s civil rights movement whose followers had revolutionary impulses that came from their religious convictions.

Dr. King was also an artist — the rises and falls in his speeches were like chords on sheet music.

Dr. King was also a philosopher and deep thinker. He studied the Hebrew Bible, Socrates, Plato, the Romans, Jesus, Paul, the Renaissance Period, Gandhi, James Weldon Johnson and all the great poets of the Harlem Renaissance Movement.

Dr. King was also a child prodigy — he graduated high school at 15 and college at 19. He was a student of sociology and theology and philosophy.

In contrast, it seems that my generation lacks the historical perspective and philosophical depth required to create a movement on par with the Civil Rights Movement.

For example, I have seen statements by some of my Black peers stating that they would respond with “these hands” against injustice in contrast to their great grandparents who could not. In making such statements, they illustrate their profound ignorance of the theological underpinnings of the non-violent movement and how it was rooted in the concept of love for one’s fellow man. It’s not as if we were incapable of fighting with physical violence, but rather that we believed in a principle greater than ourselves.

Moreover, the ease with which groups of people are duped into accepting anti-Zionist movements into their own, (i.e., Women’s March), illustrates the lack of substance and introspection they have given to their own causes. Instead, empty words are repeated and often made up.

For example, Ashley Judd’s statement in a poem of feeling “Hitler in these streets” is not only wrong; it represents shallow self-indulgence and illustrates what oppression olympics looks like: Trying to compete in such a way that makes your situation seem as horrid as the Shoah. It isn’t. Nor is it ever okay to trivialize the Holocaust for your political ends. If you felt Hitler in these streets, you wouldn’t be allowed to protest in them.

Contradictory causes are championed because we have not put in the intellectual footwork to understand the depth of what we champion in the first place. Why is Linda Sarsour allowed anywhere near — let alone a cosponsor of — a women’s march?

Perhaps it is the close proximity of the day we celebrate Dr. King to the Women’s March in D.C. that makes it so easy to observe their contrasts. Perhaps it is the nastiness with which conservatives and liberals alike are characterizing each other that makes me crave for the spirit of MLK to return.

Whatever my source of contemplation, one thing is clear: The conviction that kept my ancestors from fighting back in sit-ins even as they were beaten and battered is the same conviction that must animate any movement that comes from our generation. We need to let love in.

Photo by State Library and Archives of Florida

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