Monday, January 21, 2013

Remembering the Real Dr. King on MLK Day

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. day, which also sees the second inauguration of our first African-American President with his hand on Dr. King's Bible, there are a number of interesting discussions on what his real legacy is.

Is the dream fully realized? Is racism over? Some actually say "yes", un-ironically (Stephen Colbert doesn't see race, after all). CNN is featuring an interesting piece on conservatives who look to Dr. King for inspiration. Those in the liberal/progressive camp have long quoted him supporting their policies.

The truth about Martin Luther King is, of course, a lot more complicated than most of us want to admit. He may have said a lot of things that are convenient to use as proof-texts, but also said many things that challenge people all over the spectrum.

Perhaps no word sum it up as well as this picture of Dr. King talking with President Johnson, a man for whom he actively campaigned, but is clearly agitating with his words challenging the President to seek peace and justice.

But words do matter, especially since we spend this day honoring a man who used language so skillfully and powerfully.

Here is a list of King quotes we don't often hear because they make us too uncomfortable.

Here is Dr. King's 1967 speech publicly opposing the Vietnam War- a speech that lost him quite a few friends:

Finally, here is Cornel West with an interesting take on why he didn't like President Obama using Dr. King's Bible to take the oath today.

May we all be appropriately discomforted by Martin Luther King's prophetic speech and do something with that discomfort. Then we really will be honoring his memory.

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