The real Martin Luther King

Category: Americas, Featured, World Affairs Topics: Martin Luther King Values: Freedom, Justice Views: 7323

As we commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, it is appropriate to honor and reflect on Dr. King the great civil rights leader, whose efforts helped to reshape American political and social life.

The movement King led secured voting rights for disenfranchised African Americans who, one hundred years after the official end of slavery in the U.S., were still the victims of severe discrimination. This same civil rights movement also led to abolition of segregation, a system of law and practice that had divided America into two distinct worlds, one black and one white.

An entire generation of Americans does not realize the realities of U.S. life just a few decades ago. In several parts of our country, African Americans could not buy property, do business, reside, attend school, etc., in "white-only" neighborhoods. The struggle, led by King, to break down these barriers to racial separation in housing, employment, education and public accommodations was a difficult one. Though non-violent, it was met with violence. Thousands of protesters were arrested or beaten. Many lost their lives. In the end, it was King and his movement that won and forever changed the face of America.

Still, the work is not done. While legal segregation has ended, the legacy of racial division continues to haunt America.

As late as 1964, property deeds in my neighborhood in northwest Washington included a "covenant" that prohibited the sale of that property to African Americans. Thirty-seven years after those covenants were declared null and void, Washington, D.C., the United States' capitol city, remains an extraordinarily divided city. Although two-thirds of the city's population is African American, Washington is divided almost in half, from north to south, by Rock Creek Park. One side of the park is more than 90% white, the other is still 90% black.

And with that physical division goes significant differences in income, infrastructure, services and opportunities. All of which reminds us that there remains unfinished business to complete the work of Dr. King.

Many King commemorations include another agenda item. It will be recalled that as Martin Luther King fought for civil rights and justice, he faced not only the opposition and brutality of local pro-segregationist law enforcement officials; he also faced challenges to his civil liberties as well. It is well known how some federal officials spied on the civil rights movement and sought to disrupt its work. All of this intensified in the late 1960's after Dr. King began to develop an international agenda and challenged the war in Vietnam.

And so it is important to, once again, link the struggles for civil rights and civil liberties and to connect the struggles for international peace and justice with the domestic struggle for peace and justice.

Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy serves as an important reminder of the need for an active and outspoken defense of civil liberties and civil rights during these difficult days. Too often during times of national crises, the government has used the threat of investigation or actual investigations to silence social justice, civil rights and anti-war advocacy...The necessary and legitimate war against terrorism should not be used to permanently expand unchecked government power or to diminish the Bill of Rights...America is at a crossroads...We must rise to the occasion and demand that our government fight terrorism in a way that does not offend constitutional principles and American values.

What is also of importance here is that in raising the critical and challenging issues of civil rights and civil liberties, the King Day commemorative events be given a cutting edge.

I can recall during the 1980's when we marched in Washington on Dr. King's birthday demanding that a national day of remembrance be set aside to not only honor the man, but to recommit the nation to his mission. One especially insightful African American leader predicted, with regret, "we might win and get this holiday and live to see the day when the Dr. King that politicians honor is not the Martin Luther King we knew."

In fact, this transformation and diminution of the legacy of Dr. King has been taking place during the past decade. The image of King has been blurred. The reality of racism he confronted has been ignored, as has the radical and revolutionary challenge he presented for the "status quo".

As we remember Dr. King we need to keep the real spirit of his movement alive. This is important for history's sake and it is important for the causes of civil rights and civil liberties that we remember the real struggles faced by King and that we organize anew to face the challenges to rights that are confronting us today.


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  11 Comments   Comment

  1. H.A. from Yathrib

    Hey Romero!!!

    What are you implying? What is your point?

    Are you saying Muslims hate everyone (Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others) just because some Muslims can't along with other Muslims?

    I think you were drunk while there or exhausted from the desert heat.

    I suggest you take a long vacation in the Middle East or other Muslims countries.

  2. muslimah 1 from USA

    Esther, I advice you to read the biography of Malcom X, written by Alex Haley, you might learn more about Malcom.

    Regarding the Nation of Islam and Elijah Mohamed, they are not Muslims. Elijah Mohamed declared himself to be a prophet of Islam and that is a blasphemy in Islam, because prophet Mohamed was the last prophet. He said that God came to the world in the form of a man named W. Fard, this is definitely an abominable blasphemy. The Nation of Islam is actually anti-Islamic, because they have attributed abhorrent things to Islam, such as that whites are devils and many other despicable things.

    I really advice you to educate yourself on Islam, before you make such insupportable statements.

  3. Romero from de

    Hi-

    I worked in middle east as contractor. Muslims there are very hateful and prejudice to each other.

    Arab muslims treat muslims from Asia like white america once treat black america.

    Some Asia Muslims with money treat other asia muslims same way.

    I lived some time in Dallas Texas and Muslims there dislike each other because one comes from India and other from Pakistan. Some from India don't make friends because they come from different region.

    I was shocked to see something like this especially from muslim in america. I believe america Muslims stick together after 11-9-02.

    From the the information on Islam published on net

    most persons in my country feel that all muslims love each other like brothers.

    Muslims can learn very much from Martin King on how to treat each other and how to get along with other people.

    I feel bad because I read about Islam but when I see muslims, they have no love for even their fellow muslim.

  4. Idris Bankston from USA

    As Salaamu Alaikum.

    I am glad to see an article on the

    Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. We need to

    remember what he stood for, rather than the

    wrong he did as an adulterer. Blacks here in

    America need someone to "lead the way" as

    Dr King and Malcolm X did. There have been

    no REAL protests since their death. Black

    folks need a leader to help remind them of

    the struggle our ancestors went through to

    make a better life for us today. Getting caught

    up in all the designer clothes, bling-bling and

    other distractive nonsense has helped to

    erase the memory of our past.

    I am a direct decendent of Nat Turner, a slave

    who took matters in his own hands to free

    himself and those close to him. Although

    he murdered and slaughtered many whites

    who owned slaves, and then some, he took a

    stand for what he believed in and caused a

    wave of revolt amongst other slaves. That tiny

    spark he caused created a rolling flame in the

    hearts and minds of fellow slaves who in turn

    revolted as well. Peace and Blessing to Dr.

    King and his family. May Allah smile on him

    and those who remember the peace he

    believed in.

  5. AAAhmed from UK

    Esther...hey long time no hear. Still praying to Falwell for Armageddon ? Your cheap slander of Malcolm X once again highlights your shortcomings both as shallow christian bigot and a sad excuse for a human being.

    Malcolm was a product of his time, he WAS a criminal prior to joining the so-called NOI, his anger at a system which allowed for terrorizing black people was just. His break from elijah the con man and his journey of reversion to Islam is inspiring to say the least. I can tell from your idiotic rant you never read his autobiography.

    Malcolm was a hero, not just for Muslim but for all who value peace and justice for all.

  6. Nia Odeoti-Hassan from United States

    This is an excellent article. We as Muslims can learn from the the legaacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.

  7. Esther from USA

    Kashift, Elijah (the founder of the Nation of Islam) slept around. As for Malcom he might have been moral in some sense after he joined the Nation of Islam. However, that does not change the fact that he was a criminal and a hateful person.

  8. Muslimah from usa

    salaam. alhamdulillah for all thinks, la hawla la wakawat illabilla ta allah. all things happen by the will and mercy of allah. my question is should we as muslims, acknowlege this man, as he did only what allah decreed for him to do. also should we as muslims acknowlege this man who was not saying "la illaha illallah wa ashadu ana muhammada rasullallah. i never read where the prophet (saws) said celebrate his death when he's gone. so why as muslims would we celebrate, acknowlege or give thanks to a christian man(mlk).MLK has no comparison nor has he brought what, by allah, what rasulallah (saws) delivered to us. salaam.

  9. Hyat from Canada

    Martin Luther King's legacy serves as an important reminder of the need for an active and outspoken defense of civil liberties and civil rights furring these difficult days. I would seem like America is going back to those days to controlling people. Than it was black people now it is black, Muslims and Islam. Look at all those people of Middle Eastern decent who are imprisoned since the 9/11 with no rights of any kind. The media is not allowed to talk about to them or about them what does that tell us that America is moving forward or backwards with its civil rights and liberties. This time is focus is against Muslims.

  10. Kashif Shaikh from Canada

    Salam,

    Nice to see such articles on Islamicity forum, pray to see a similar well toned articles on Al-Malik al-Shabazz(malcolm x) in near future. King kinda lost bit of his integrity when he had affair on his wife with caucasian women. Malcolm more inspiring as once he committed to cleaning up his act, he 'really cleaned' it up.

    Peace and Wassalam,

    Kashif Shaikh

    Toronto