What would Dr. Mar­tin Luther King Jr. do with Trump’s law­less­ness?

South Florida Times - - OPINION -

Dr. King was mur­dered by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, in Mem­phis Ten­nessee, at the Lor­raine Mo­tel. Most fam­ily mem­bers, close ad­vi­sors, and sup­port­ers be­lieve Dr. King’s death was a planned plot au­tho­rized by the Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity to end his life. There are many the­o­ries and con­spir­a­cies on why Dr. King was killed, but from the very be­gin­ning of his mis­sion, he un­der­stood that chang­ing Amer­i­can in­jus­tice could cost him his life.

Dr. King was a great speaker and po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tional ge­nius who gal­va­nized and mo­bi­lized the African Amer­i­can com­mu­nity in Amer­ica de­mand­ing their civil rights based on the United States con­sti­tu­tion. He fo­cused on Amer­i­can in­jus­tice as it re­lated to the po­lit­i­cal, ed­u­ca­tional, and so­cial sta­tus of Black peo­ple.

King’s po­lit­i­cal strat­egy was to trans­form an en­tire so­ci­ety with tac­tics of non­vi­o­lence and civil dis­obe­di­ence in­spired by non­vi­o­lence ac­tivism of Ma­hatma Gandhi. Many rad­i­cal Blacks ar­gued that Amer­ica was a racist and vi­o­lent coun­try and the only way to change a so­ci­ety was through blood­shed.

But King be­lieved in his Chris­tian prin­ci­ples, and the Amer­i­can jus­tice sys­tem. Dur­ing his life­time, King made great achieve­ments, such as be­ing awarded the No­bel Peace Prize, forc­ing Congress and the president to im­ple­ment the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and the Vot­ing Rights Act in 1965, the Mont­gomery Bus Boy­cott, and the March on Wash­ing­ton in 1963. He was a dis­rup­tor, a change agent, and his vi­sion and strat­egy rev­o­lu­tion­ized Amer­ica.

“You may well ask. Why direct ac­tion? Why sit-ins, marches etc.? Isn’t ne­go­ti­a­tion a bet­ter path? You are ex­actly right in your call for ne­go­ti­a­tion. In­deed, this is the pur­pose of direct ac­tion. Non­vi­o­lent direct ac­tion seeks to cre­ate such a cri­sis and es­tab­lish such creative ten­sion that a com­mu­nity that has con­stantly re­fused to ne­go­ti­ate is forced to con­front the is­sue,” writ­ten in a let­ter from Birm­ing­ham Jail-Dr. Mar­tin Luther King, Jr.

In 2018, for Blacks in Amer­ica, there is no cri­sis they think, and the ma­jor­ity of us see no rea­son for direct ac­tion. Some of us have money in the bank, a mort­gage to pay, a nice ve­hi­cle to drive, and con­sumed with pay­ing our bills.

With the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump, Black Amer­i­cans are no longer a pri­or­ity or a sig­nif­i­cant cul­ture and com­mu­nity in the scheme of things in Amer­ica. We are es­sen­tially in­vis­i­ble and there is a roll back of many of the le­gal rights af­forded to our com­mu­nity un­der President Obama and other pres­i­dents.

Fifty (50) years later the ques­tion must be raised, “What would Dr. King do?”

In or­der to an­swer this ques­tion, it is es­sen­tial to un­der­stand why King risked his life for1,300 Black san­i­ta­tion work­ers in Mem­phis. It was 1968, and all the san­i­ta­tion work­ers were Black, and made 65 cents an hour, with no over­time pay, no paid sick time, and on-the-job in­juries could re­sult in an em­ployee los­ing his/her job.

Two san­i­ta­tion work­ers were killed on the job, and the Mem­phis Depart­ment of Public Works re­fused to com­pen­sate their fam­i­lies. This re­sulted in all the work­ers walk­ing off the job, and Mayor Henry Loeb re­fused the de­mands of the san­i­ta­tion work­ers union.

Once King was aware of the in­jus­tice in Mem­phis, he joined the union’s fight for jus­tice with direct ac­tion and demon­stra­tions. The mayor de­clared mar­tial law, and the Na­tional Guard was called in.

On April 3, King preached his fa­mously “Moun­tain-top speech” and he was killed the next day. Where ever there was in­jus­tice, King took ac­tion and he was will­ing to fight for change.

Blacks in 2018 in Amer­ica must or­ga­nize, mo­bi­lize and fight for change with direct ac­tion. We must use Dr. King’s po­lit­i­cal, le­gal, strate­gies, by en­gag­ing Black churches/or­ga­ni­za­tions, and us­ing tac­tics of non­vi­o­lence and civil dis­obe­di­ence - be­cause we are still in cri­sis af­ter 50 years.

April 1st, 2018 was Res­ur­rec­tion Sun­day, oth­er­wise known as Easter Sun­day. But while I cel­e­brated the ba­sic tenet of my Chris­tian faith – that Je­sus lives – I also com­mem­o­rated the 26th an­niver­sary of the pass­ing of my own son. So, I with­held the sad­ness un­til April 2nd, only to be made aware that an­other icon that I cher­ished had just passed.

South Africa’s “Mother of the Na­tion,”Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela, had been one of the great war­riors against the cruel apartheid gov­ern­ment with her equally fa­mous ex-hus­band and South African President Nel­son Man­dela.

As I read about her death and all the al­leged so-called scan­dals that were re­hashed in the var­i­ous news out­lets, I re­mem­bered the old African Proverb that said: “Un­til lions have their own his­to­ri­ans, tales of the hunt shall al­ways glo­rify the hunter (Igbo, Nige­ria)”. So I take all those ac­counts of her ter­ror­iz­ing peo­ple with a grain of salt.

But Madik­izela-Man­dela told ac­tress Naomi Har­ris, who por­trayed her in the 2013 film Man­dela: Long Walk to Free­dom, that was “the first time she felt her story had been cap­tured on film” (ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia).

I took a real in­ter­est in Win­nie af­ter I trav­eled to South Africa and vis­ited Man­dela’s prison cell on Robben Is­land where he spent al­most 30 years; as well as town­ship in Soweto near Johannesburg where Win­nie spent her time fight­ing the cruel and evil apartheid sys­tem. We learned how she was ha­rassed, tor­tured, banned and even kept in soli­tary con­fine­ment for a pe­riod of time. I had heard about their strug­gles, but to be in close prox­im­ity to where they both suf­fered was a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence.

When I trav­eled to Kenya, I was given the ti­tle of “Trade and Travel Good­will Am­bas­sador to Kenya” by the vice president and when I ar­rived back in New York, I was

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