What Would Dr. King Say?
As we celebrate another MLK Day, we must consider how the man we honor would think about the current racial climate in the U.S.
I don’t claim to know Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was born years after his assassination. Some claim King was murdered in the hospital after surviving the shooting on the balcony. Maybe. Maybe not. What I do know is that Dr. King would not be happy with America’s current racial crisis.
And it is a crisis. Police continue to kill Black men, women, and children by the hundreds every year. Since 1968, thousands of Black people have died at the hands of the police. Hunting season on Black lives didn’t end with King’s death. If anything, it increased.
I’m sure King would have a lot to say about how Black people continue to be treated in this country. Our prisons are overpopulated by a majority of Black and Brown citizens. Our schools in urban districts still don’t receive the same funding as suburban schools. People of color are still racially profiled at banks, stores, and neighborhoods.
Currently, there are two voting bills in front of Congress that need to pass — the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill and the Freedom to Vote Bill. If Congress can award a Congressional Medal of Honor to Emmett and Mamie Till, they can make it into a law allowing everyone to have access to vote. If they can put Maya Angelou on the quarter, they can prevent states from rolling back voting rights for Black, Brown, disabled, poor, and elderly voters.
King would be shocked at how Black people are accosted for simply living. We could be walking in our neighborhood, selling lemonade, shopping at the mall and some random white person feels to need to get in our faces. And when we record their antics, out come the white tears and crazed actions. White people don’t want Black people or other people of color to progress — it’s as simple as that.
I wish Dr. King had survived the shooting and been a force in American society. Maybe things would have turned out differently for millions of Black Americans. Maybe his work would have gotten more laws passed to help Black people, place more Black people in public office, and provide funding for our neighborhoods and schools. Maybe we wouldn’t have had to wait until the 21st century for Obama to become president. Maybe we would have had a Black president decades sooner.
King is sorely missed. No other Black leader has done as much for the country. Jesse Jackson tried, but he was problematic. John Lewis did what he could and so did many others who knew and worked with King. But their efforts were stymied by racist white politicians and presidents. Ronald Reagan, both George Bush (father and son), Bill Clinton, and definitely Donald Trump, didn’t do anything to improve race relations in this country. Trump, if anything, made things much worse.
We need a Black leader to unify Black people in this country. We’re scattered with our own agendas. Some of us want change in this country. Some of us just want money and material possessions. Many of us don’t care about racism and just want to survive. But as a people, we need to more than survive. We must thrive. Dr. King would want no less.