Most of late last week was filled with moving commemorations of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom many people, certainly by 1968, felt would possibly be killed by white nationalists (so-called “racists.”)
King had been vilified and set up by America’s vaunted public safety apparatus [law enforcement] whose operatives also covered up the crime scene near the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. That was 40 years ago, April 4, 1968.
King is dead, but variations of the slogan “Keeping the Dream Alive,” adorn T-shirts, caps, banners, you name it. Even little eight-year-olds know it – and perhaps more non-African-American youth and adults than one might consider.
Unfortunately, what is lurking in near death pangs, like a sojourner on a desert without water, is the very impetus that galvanized the civil rights movement, engulfed King, and thrust him into leadership. Equal education was always paramount for African Americans.
The U. S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, on May 17, 1954, was at once the glimmer of hope and bastion of power that could launch true liberation for African Americans. Because of it, America’s use of legal means of state-supported segregation would begin to crumble. It also served as a foundation for other pivotal events.
The following year, 1955, the Montgomery, Ala. bus boycott with Rosa Parks was born. In 1957, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., to protect “the Little Rock Nine” from white mobs as they tried to attend Central High School there.
The modern civil rights movement catapulted out of Brown v. Board of Education. The freedom rides, student movement, churches and unions all derived their sustenance from it. So, too, did the 1963 March on Washington, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 – planned before King’s assassination.
Here, then, is the hard question: Since there is positive proof that education is key, and African Americans fought so hard and long to achieve access to quality education, how and why is it that so few blacks are seeking as much education as possible in pursuit of viable careers?
The value placed on education starts at home. Wake up, black man and black woman! Your mind belongs to your people and the world. Do you not see the negative effect that the lack of decent, dependable, good parenting has on young people of African descent from early childhood up through teenage years? Why is it that you do not care?
Lack of money is a lame excuse. Why? Because holding high educational expectations is free! A richly developing spirit and mind can overcome poverty by adulthood. The poet Carl Sandburg wrote, “The growth of a frail flower in the path up has sometimes shattered and split a rock . . . .”
For some adults, money is not an objectionable issue; they just don’t care to know. So their boys wear expensive sneakers and gold teeth, but can hardly read and write, or speak Standard English. The daughters dress and behave like floozies.
King is dead! Let’s focus on us. What are we, as a people, going to do during the next 10 to 20 years? Will we continue our slide toward nihilism, the steep trajectory down to anything goes? Will we pull up and take control of black children, schools and other institutions in our environs and otherwise become responsible citizens?
To really focus on us, on our future in America and globally, it seems to me that there should be tacit understanding and agreement that our actions must be transformative. We need an-all-but-genealogical regeneration.
Al Calloway • Al_Calloway@Verizon.net