Some Reading for Martin Luther King Day

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So, today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. The national holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January. The way the holiday is set up now allows it to coincide with MLK’s birthday, which is on the 15th but the holiday was originally set on the fourth Monday in January.

The holiday is recognized to some degree in all 50 states, but it took until 2000 for it to be recognized at all the in state of Arizona (What gives? Don’t you want another day off?)

According to TimeandDate.com, some states recognize Martin Luther King Day along with other holidays.

  • In Arizona and New Hampshire, the day is combined with Civil Rights Day.
  • Idaho recognizes Human Rights Day.
  • Wyoming recognizes the day as Wyoming Equality Day.
  • Some states celebrate it along with Robert E. Lee’s birthday …

Anyway, I thought I would use this space to talk about a few articles I found today.


The FBI Wishes All a Happy Martin Luther King Day

One of the first articles I found today was entitled, People Are Dragging The FBI For Their MLK Day Tweet., the FBI made a tweet in honor of the Civil Rights leader and holiday named after him. The irony did not go unnoticed by the Twitterverse. Christine Rousselle shares the response tweets.

Here’s the tweet from the FBI:

FBI, Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King Day, tweet, irony

It was pointed out how operatives at the FBI despised Martin Luther, King, Jr. As he emerged as a Civil Rights leader, he also became a target of the FBI. Under FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (the former president), the agency put King under surveillance. Hoover wanted to prove King was a Communist.

At one point, FBI Domestic Intelligence Chief William Sullivan sent MLK a letter, along with some compromising tapes. Sullivan was urging the reverend to kill himself.

As it turns out, the FBI tried to shop the information they found on King to the press, but members of the (Southern) press declined to print the story. At least one newspaper declined due to the importance of the movement King was a part of but others did based on journalistic integrity.


The Establishment’s Staff Looks at a Few Narratives

As I was looking at WordPress Reader, I came across a post which linked back to a post on The Establishment website. In the post entitled, The Exploitation Of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy By White Supremacy, The Establishment staff, the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is evaluated — at least in the sense of what we are told about it and how were are told to view him.

Although the title will likely anger some, I found myself largely agreeing with the points made. As what normally happens with history, things are whitewashed, misinterpreted, and misused in order to quiet opponents. In a sense, this is what happened with Martin Luther King’s motivations, legitimacy (at least in comparison to Malcolm X), and ultimate role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Nonviolence

Many people who speak positively of MLK point to his nonviolent methods. While I would agree that nonviolence is important for righteous protest, there is another level to it. The Civil Rights Movement, even in the time of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was more complex.

As pointed out in the post, nonviolent protest gives the activist the moral high ground. It might not stop the other side from using violence but observers can see what’s happening and will eventually question the side that is using violence.

That’s a reason why parents often tell their children to use their words and avoid throwing the first punch. The instigator may very well be wrong, but words don’t justify violence.

Malcolm X

Martin Luther King Jr. as the antithesis of Malcolm X and the Black Power movement

In textbooks, film, and television, King is often portrayed as the angel to Malcolm’s devil. The man who believed in peace and love versus the man who promoted anger and violence. King was the man who met racism with tolerance, while Malcolm met racism with reverse-racism. Not only is this a deliberate denial of the smart, nuanced, and ever-evolving activism of Malcolm X, it is a misrepresentation of King intended to gaslight the entirety of black America into believing that their anger is unjustified and counterproductive.

When Malcolm X is addressed, he is often characterized as an angry black man or the symbol for the Angry Black Man, but he was also a Civil Rights leader. Often, when a black person expresses anger over injustice, there are people who will try to silence him.

When he first used his pulpit in the later 1950’s, Malcolm X did express an anger that attracted many black followers. He initially believed that blacks and whites should be segregated. King did not like Malcolm X’s methods, but that’s not all we should take from history.

We should also remember how Malcolm X’s views evolved over time. Once a member of the Nation of Islam, he became disillusioned and questioned the legitimacy of the organization. Sometime afterwards, he visited Mecca and met people from different cultures. He realized that his message needed to be more inclusive.

King’s Motivations

Furthermore, King wasn’t just working for peace, but social and economic equality. That is something we need to still fight for today. It’s a problem across ethnicities and it grows more pronounced with each generation.

One thing that really dealt a huge blow to segregation in the South was the bus boycott. We often hear of Rosa Park’s refusal to get up from her seat, but the buses in Mississippi were integrated because they lost money.

We can learn from that example and remember that the best way to hit an unjust organization is the negatively impact its bottom line.


Works Cited

Clark, Roy Peter. “How the Southern press foiled FBI’s attempt to smear MLK. Poynter. 25 Nov 2014. Web. <https://www.poynter.org/2014/how-the-southern-press-foiled-fbis-smear-of-mlk/304233/>.

The Establishment Staff.“The Exploitation Of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy By White Supremacy.” The Establishment. <https://theestablishment.co/the-exploitation-of-martin-luther-kings-legacy-by-white-supremacy-1b3e95c1d213#.nwr9cbvj0>.

The Estate of Malcolm X. “Biography.” Malcolm X. Web. Retrieved 16 Jan 2017. <http://malcolmx.com/biography/>.

“Martin Luther King Day in the United States.” TimeandDate.com. Web. Retrieved 16 Jan 2017. Web. <https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/martin-luther-king-day>.

Prokop, Andrew. “Read the letter the FBI sent MLKto try to convince him to kill himself.” Vox. 16 Jan 2017. Web. <http://www.vox.com/xpress/2014/11/12/7204453/martin-luther-king-fbi-letter>.

Rousselle, Christine. “People Are Dragging The FBI For Their MLK Day Tweet.” Townhall. 16 Jan 2017. Web. <http://townhall.com/tipsheet/christinerousselle/2017/01/16/people-are-dragging-the-fbi-for-their-mlk-day-tweet-n2272355>.

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