Dr. King’s Dream Today a Nightmare, by Mychal Massie

As we marked our nation’s annual commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we received many reminders that it’s time for America to remember the injustices he fought.

Preachers preached special sermons, teachers had special lesson plans and politicians – coupled with the usual merchants of immiseration – gathered for photo-ops. All recalled that Dr. King fought for the freedom, equality and dignity of blacks. However, the marches, chants and choruses of “We Shall Overcome” were also carefully designed to omit the fact that much has already been overcome.

While we overcame, there are still problems to conquer. But demagogues focus on the perceived and politically profitable splinter of discontent while ignoring the blatant beam of trouble actually facing us.

Sadly, but certainly not unexpectedly, Dr. King’s day has devolved into a misrepresentation of what he actually stood for. It has become a day in which too many people use his name to slam capitalism and conservative values while fomenting feelings of misery and resentment.

I have long since wearied of the falsities surrounding Dr. King’s life and words and submit that it is time to honor his memory with truth and honesty.

Dr. King literally put his life on the line for his beliefs. He didn’t retreat, apologize or distort the truth. Instead, he offered it up for America and the world to see. This undiluted truth was a sulfuric colonic to the racist elements of his day.

Dr. King didn’t need to invent injustice. The fact that blacks were denied the right to vote and to live, shop and eat where they wanted didn’t need inventing. Beatings, fire hoses and attack dogs in the hands of those filled with hate didn’t need embellishing – it needed only be shown on the evening news for the conscience of America to demand change.

The truth can be denied by the darkness of hatred, but it can never be disproved. Nor can it be diminished.

While there are any number of scholarly positions that would be open to cogent and reasoned debate if Dr. King were still alive, what should not be open for debate is his position on segregation – codified or self-imposed – or his position on harboring thoughts of contempt and resentment:

In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggles on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence… The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers… have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedoms we cannot walk alone. (August 28, 1963)

I believe this gives us an indication of what Dr. King would think of the Jacksons, Sharptons, Farrakhans and Julian Bonds of today. They are purveyors of discontent, preying on feelings of anger and resentment.

It may also suggest his opinion of people such as National Urban League president Mark Morial, who praised Planned Parenthood as a “good organization.” It is a tragedy that so many unborn black babies are destroyed through the procedure of abortion.

Furthermore, what might Dr. King think of his Dream today if he saw the devastating effect that personal and social irresponsibility has had on the black family? There’s no doubt he’d be horrified by the gangs, drugs, educational laxity, generational welfare and the damning results of Great Society programs.

Perhaps instead of preening for photo-ops, the feckless fantasia that is the liberal establishment and black leadership would better spend their time trying to remember exactly what Dr. King’s dream really was.

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Mychal Massie is the chairman of the black leadership network Project 21. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.

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