MLK 50: My Reflections on a King

By Raynard Jackson | 5/2/2018, 2:30 p.m.
As the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April ...
The Great Read art contest honors MLK's legacy. Submitted graphic

As the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4th, I reflected upon the legacy of the iconic civil rights leader, I was reminded of two columns I wrote years ago in the form of poems. Yes, I do have a poetic side that most of the public has not seen unless they have read my book, “Writing Wrongs: My Political Journey in Black and Write.”

The first column was written in January of 2005 titled, “Letter to Dr. King.” Please remember the context in which this piece was written. George W. Bush had just won a second term as president; Barak Obama was just sworn in as the new senator from Illinois; Bill Cosby was being vilified for his now infamous “Pound Cake” speech before a NAACP awards program in Washington, D.C.; the speech was about Blacks being more responsible for what happens in their lives.

Even though Bush named Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice the first Black Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, respectively in the history of the United States, some Blacks still called Bush a racist; Former President George W. Bush also had a more diverse cabinet than former President Bill Clinton.

The second column was written six years later, in 2011, and titled, “The State of the Dream.” In this piece, I was very critical of how Blacks involved awarded the contracts to design and construct King’s statue on The Mall in Washington, D.C., to a Chinese sculptor and not an American. They even imported the granite from China, even though they could have gotten the same quality of materials in the U.S.

With this as a backdrop, I think if King was living today, he would be totally embarrassed and ashamed of the Black community; and he would be totally disappointed in the White community, as well.

When people called King the “n-word,” it was not a term of endearment; it was a term of death, as in, “Kill the n—ger!” I am quite sure that Jesse Jackson never walked up to King and said, “Yo, what’s up my n—goo!?”

Now, you have Blacks all over television, movies, and public spaces using the word in mixed company. Then Blacks have the nerve to want to get angry when a non-Black does the same thing.

No one should be using the word. Period. The very use of this word is an affront to everything King represented.

Another thing that would embarrass Dr. King, would be the blatant mistreatment and degradation by some of Black women. When did it become okay to call our women bitches and hoes?

Or what about the way some young people dress? Do you really think King would have approved of us walking around with our pants hanging down to our knees or our women showing all manner of body parts at work, church and on the street?

King didn’t want special treatment for Blacks; he simply wanted equal treatment. He didn’t want Blacks to become a protected class; he simply wanted America to enforce the Constitution.