Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Genesis 37:8
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
Part II of II
The quotes in this piece are from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last recorded speech.
As the MLK Holiday celebrations draw to a close and the beginning of Black History Month is on the horizon, I would hope that we as a community would come together to present a unified front.
With all of the planning for the different activities that mean so much to the Black community, you would believe that a lot more than five people controlled their destinies.
Due to the relevance and preservation of the surrounding historical aspects there should be more guardians than grave robbers.
Our celebrations, more times than not without the inclusion of the majority of its people, have turned into demonstrations of degradations at our own hands, influenced by that all mighty dollar and the control of said.
“We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, ‘God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you’.”
We have allowed our history to be misrepresented by segments that do not have the whole story. When this is done, we are on the path to extinction. They allow his-story to regulate our place in history.
The mis-education of the Negro has expanded itself to the misleading records of our recorded history.
…”And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I’m just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I’m happy that He’s allowed me to be in Memphis.”
When we as Black people begin to pull together for our own survival based upon the concept of capitalism we are slowly picked off.
“Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.”
Our marches should be made up of purposes that include us not for the conveniences of others and we need to show up in numbers, not show out in ignorance.
“Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school — be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.”
When will we realize that in order for us to be recognized, respected and reasoned with we must allow others to see the strength of our dollars? We must speak daily with our dollars!
“Now the other thing we’ll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. …collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. …The American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. … That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it.”
We must understand the rules of fair play and expect ‘good corporate citizenship to include us-Black folk in the equation of reciprocity.
“And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy — what is the other bread? —Wonder Bread. …As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain.”
We have failed at educating our children. We don’t teach them about slavery and our extraordinary history before we were taken from Africa in chains. Those institutions that once produced geniuses have been handcuffed. Now our children are forced to believe that HBCUs are inadequate.
“But not only that, we’ve got to strengthen Black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a “bank-in” movement in Memphis. … Put your money there. You have six or seven Black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an “insurance-in.”
When it’s all said and done, there comes a time when we have to realize that doing what’s right may cost you your life. As soon as Dr. King realized that he was not going to live past this point, he was willing to die for the cause of what was right for all people.
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!”
“And it shall be in the last days,” God says, “That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams.” Acts 2:17 (NASB)