Archive for January 17th, 2011

Dr. King’s Day: The all-redemptive price

January 17, 2011

Dr. King poses with Robert Kennedy. What one man does not know is that the other has been politically bullied in to tapping the first’s phone since 1963.

There are so few straightforward and ideal moments in time, and even fewer uncomplicated and ideal men.

If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.

R.I.P. to Dr. King and RFK, both.

Dr. King’s Day: An individual who breaks the law to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice

January 17, 2011

September 4, 1958. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. King refused to pay the $14 fine, instead accepting the sentence of 14 days in jail for disobedience of an officer of the law. The commissioner of police, embarassed by the bad publicity and concerned at the public outcry over the incident, paid Dr. King’s fine himself.

I submit that an individual who breaks the law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law.

Dr. King’s Day: The Measures of Man

January 17, 2011

What is man, and how do we judge him, if we judge at all? How do we judge and measure ourselves?

Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy. (The Measures of Man, 1959)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. (Strength to Love, 1963)

I often find myself backing down from a fight to avoid conflict, or holding my tongue when I disagree with an opinion. But I need to stop. Not in an aggressive way, but in a way that is faithful to myself and my value system. Speak out. Be the champion of your beliefs.

Dr. King’s Day: Movie Moment — Do the Right Thing

January 17, 2011

Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989).

Do the Right Thing culminates in terrific racial violence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Park part of Brooklyn, New York.

After the film ends, two quotes, one from Dr. King, and one from Malcolm X, are presented along with a still iconic image of them shaking hands.

The quotes advance two different philosophies for accomplishing an agenda of social change. The two philosophies presented in the quotes underscore the clashing sides of the issues boiling over in the time of the film’s setting.

Dr. King’s quote is, “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

(This quote mainly comes from his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize lecture, except for the “everybody blind” part. “An Eye for an Eye leaves everyone blind” is an attributed quote that was not included in the Nobel speech. I’ve actually been unable to find it at all in his legitimate writings, but it is a good axiom nonetheless.)

This picture is shown throughout the film and at the closing.

Malcolm X’s quote is, “I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t even call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence.”

During his presidential campaign, I remember hearing that the Obamas saw this movie on their first date and stayed up all night debating the events in the movie, using the Civil Rights leaders’ quotes as a launchpad.

Screencaps originally by the awesome-possum buses on the lj, then edited by me. Huge thanks!)

Dr. King’s Day: The right time is always now

January 17, 2011

I think very often we have an impulse to become involved at a community or even larger level in bettering the world around us, but we think we have too many obligations already. Maybe even with good intentions, we bow out because we are concerned we could not follow through with the commitment, or we get cowed thinking that we will not have enough time to give.

“The time is always right to do what’s right.” (Address at Oberlin College, October 22, 1964.)

However much time or material goods you have to give, that is the right amount. If it lessens as time goes by, that is okay; if you find down the line you have more to give, then that is right, too. It begins by starting. I know this is something I need to think more about. I know this is something I need to work on: stop talking and start doing, stop worrying about the future and act in the present. In fact, I think I feel a resolution coming on…

E’s third resolution of 2010: The right time is always now.

The time to put in to deed all my plans and dreams, and lay aside my worries and anxieties, is always right now. Right now.

Dr. King’s Day: the 1964 Nobel Prize acceptance speech

January 17, 2011

Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, Sweden, December 11, 1964.

Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.

Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.

Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Dr. King’s Day: Our impasse in the modern world

January 17, 2011

All of these words are chillingly accurate descriptions of the continued fractured state of the modern social scene, along the entire spectrum from politics to our treatment of one another.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies — or else? The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

I challenge you not to adore this picture of Dr. King and his awesome wife.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

Jesus Christ, man, we have to help him be right.

Dr. King’s Day: Talk nerdy to me, “Trek” connection

January 17, 2011

“Uhura” comes from the Swahili word “uhuru,” which means freedom.

via Gorgeous Black Women right here on the wordpress.

[Nichelle] Nichols planned on leaving the role after her first season but was persuaded by Martin Luther King Jr. to stay. Dr. King felt like her character was a great role model for the African-American community.


Dr. King’s Day: Keep moving from this mountain

January 17, 2011

“Keep Moving From This Mountain.” Sermon at Temple Israel, Hollywood, California. February 25, 1965.

Each of us lives in two realms, the within and the without. The within of our lives is somehow found in the realm of ends, the without in the realm of means. The within of our lives, the bottom — that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion for which at best we live. The without of our lives is that realm of instrumentalities, techniques, mechanisms by which we live.

Now the great temptation of life and the great tragedy of life is that so often we allow the without of our lives to absorb the within of our lives. The great tragedy of life is that too often we allow the means by which we live to outdistance the ends for which we live.

We must move on to that mountain which says in substance, “What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world of means — airplanes, televisions, electric lights — and lose the end: the soul?”

You are not your job. You are not your possessions.

Dr. King’s Day: Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day

January 17, 2011

Madison, Wisconsin via The Madison Graffiti Project right here on the wordpress.

Dr. King’s Day: Strength to Love

January 17, 2011

Strength to Love was published in 1963. It is a compendium of Dr. King’s sermons on peace, nonviolent protest, activism, and love.

The strong man holds in a living blend strongly marked opposites. The idealists are usually not realistic, and the realists are not usually idealistic. The militant are not generally known to be passive, nor the passive to be militant. Seldom are the humble self-assertive, or the self-assertive humble. But life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony. The philosopher Hegel said that truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in the emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.

Jesus recognized the need for blending opposites. He knew that his disciples would face a difficult and hostile world, where they would confront the recalcitrance of political officials and the intransigence of the protectors of the old order. He knew that they would meet cold and arrogant men whose hearts had been hardened by the long winter of traditionalism. … And he gave them a formula for action, “Be ye therefore as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” … We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.

As the first volume of sermons by an African American preacher widely available to a white audience, Strength to Love was a landmark work. His fusion of Christian teachings and social consciousness remains in print and continues to promote King’s vision of love as a potent social and political force for change, the efficacy of religious faith in surmounting evil, and the vital need for true human integration. This volume brought to the forefront King’s identity as a compelling, well educated, and compassionate preacher at a time when many whites knew him only as a civil rights leader. (“Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle,” Stanford University Civil Rights encyclopedia.)

Dr. King’s Day redux

January 17, 2011

With some changes in arrangement and pictures, many of these are the same entries which appeared last year on Dr. Martin Luther King’s Day. There are several new ones, as well. There will be no Monocle Monday, no Mean Girls Monday, and no Daily Batman today.

All Dr. King, all day. Starting now.

If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie, and love has no meaning.

December 5, 1955, the first MIA Meeting, at the Holt Street Baptist Church.