Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy
Much More Than a Dream
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy
By Raymond Tyler --> FEW DAYS PASS WHEN I don't think about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have a short list of people who I want to be proud of my work. Aretha Franklin, my high school English teachers (especially Mrs. Alice Cash) and the late Paul Robeson, Richard Pryor and Ossie Davis. Dr. King, of course, is also on that list.
These writers, activists and artists influenced me by the level of talent that they brought to their craft and by the importance of the messages conveyed in their works. As a writer and an artist, Robeson and King remind me that I am required to produce art that is important, inspiring and, at the same time, entertaining.
I pray that my art inspires thought and action and provides good reading for people whom I may never meet personally.
I am most proud of the fact that Dr. King led a bus boycott that lasted for more than a year. I wonder what kind of respect local minorities, poorly educated and disenfranchised people would get if we stopped spending money with businesses that disregard our own issues?
I told people who asked me about the recent change of format at a local radio station that the only thing the owners respect is money. If you are upset with a format change, contact the advertisers or your concern will be disregarded. Many people in my community didn't contact advertisers, but just continued to listen to the station, allowed their children to listen to the station and even advertised with the station. What does this mean? In short, that I wouldn't respect you either if I owned a station and you showed that brazen lack of respect for yourself.
Is Dr. King's memory worth anything more than a day off of work? We who care about the human race must fight for freedom, for education, and for our children the way we have been known to fight when our sneakers are stepped on.
For those not scared of books longer than an inch thick, I highly suggest you purchase A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King Jr. It contains all of Dr. King's essential speeches, his essays and many rare interviews. My favorite is "I See the Promised," a speech given the night before his murder in April 1968. King lays out the scope of his struggle and how he felt his work would end and even how he would like to be remembered.
Now I know there are some of you who don't read anything thicker than AC Weekly. But even if you do enjoy reading, I highly suggest adding the HBO film Boycott to your DVD collection. Actor Jeffrey Wright portrays King during the 1955-56 bus boycott in Alabama. The film is well written and the acting is top shelf.
Locals on Dr. King
Shermaine Gunter-Gary, founder of the Atlantic City Rites of Passage programs: "I think the major thing that influenced me about Dr. King was that he got things done with the use of his mind as opposed to his fist. If he were alive today he would say that we have gotten complacent in our fight for justice."
Sean Timberlake, author of A Second Chance: "Dr. King is one of the greatest black men to walk the earth. I don't know that I could have been that tolerant. King stood on the fact that all men were created equal and demanded that all men be treated equal."
Darren Henson, music producer who has worked with Floetry, Jill Scott and DJ Jazzy Jeff: "A lot of younger people take the liberties that we enjoy for granted. Many of us look at MLK Day as just another day off from work. We need to reflect on his personal restraint. To be denied access to a lunch counter and to be beaten down and hosed by police and then say 'We're not going to go upside your head with a 2x4, let's talk this out.' That took more courage than reacting violently."
Nathan Davis III, Pleasantville High School teacher: "My favorite King essay is 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail.' It was the first time King directly pointed the finger at white clergy for not doing anything to help end racism and uphold their Christian values. Today's youth only know a snippet of 'I Have a Dream.' The man wrote over 600 pages on war, peace and justice. Today he's pigeon-holed as a dreamer, that's a shame. Today he would be speaking out about black-on-black crime and lack of access to decent education."
Kevin Walker, Drop Zone Army Navy storeowner. (Note: his store recently supplied army fatigues and other gear to cast members of the hit reality show Celebrity Fit Club 3): "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used his nonviolent tactics to show people throughout the world the embarrassing racial inequalities that occurred in the United States of the 1950s to 1960s. Dr. King spoke with such clarity and intelligence that even the Bull Conners of the country had to secretly question their own racist views."
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