Why Dr. King wouldn’t be invited to the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington
By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III
“Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4, 1967
As America commemorates the 50th anniversary of the historic March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom I am compelled to ask the following question, would Dr. King be invited to speak at upcoming events to commemorate the March?
If you get past the marketed “Dream” reference in the “I Have a Dream” speech you will understand that it was an indictment of America. If you read “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” or Dr. King’s last book Where Do We Go From Here, Chaos or Community?; you can rest assured that today Dr. King would be in opposition to America’s backing of the assignation of Muammar Gaddafi, drone attacks, indefinite detention at Guantanamo, NSA wiretapping, mass incarceration, and the Obama administration’s failure to speak force-fully about poverty in America. From that premise one can only conclude that if Dr. King were alive today, those within the African American community who are engaged in stifling honest, fact-based, critical analysis of the administration’s policies would not allow Dr. King on the dais. Reason being, Dr. King committed his life to a morally based sense of justice and humanity not actions taken from a sense of political expediency or realpolitik.
On Aug. 28, 1963 Dr. King stated, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation One hundred years later, the colored American lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” Today according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate stands at 7.6 percent and 15 percent in the African American community. Today, “in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity,” according to Bread For the World, “14.5 percent of U.S. households—nearly 49 million Americans, including 16.2 mill-ion children—struggle to put food on the table” and “more than one in five children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, nearly one in three children is at risk of hunger.”
President Obama has claimed to be a champion of the middle class but rarely speaks to the plight of the poor in America. Dr. King would not stand idly by and allow this to go unchallenged.