Today is MLK day. For the first time in six years, I find myself away from the U of M campus. Each year U of M organizes many seminars and activities around the life of the Reverend. Inevitably, each year I look at the schedule and wonder what some of the speakers have to do with Martin, but I’m soon reminded Martin means different things to different people. And most importantly, to many he means nothing or in their estimation an unnecessarily vaunted social figure. I won’t even humor these people with a response. From my perspective it is important to remember Martin as a revolutionary.
I recently sat at dinner with a couple of colleagues and a conversation ensued about Martin v. Malcolm (interestingly enough years ago U of M used to celebrate Martin and Malcolm on the same day, but at some point this joined celebration decayed or was removed). While we were able to avoid pitting them against each other like a Balinese cock-fight, it reminded me that we are taught to know Martin as someone he did not seek to be.
I won’t use this space to expound on why Martin was revolutionary or even what revolution is. Instead I’ll invite you to spend a little time today and in the next few days learning about a brother with a legacy that is truncated for convenience and commercialism. If you feel like moving beyond your computer screen, check out Michael Eric Dyson’s book on Dr. King or read some Dr. Kings own words.
In a time where the nation is at war, the poor of our nation are forgotten, and the marginal are still treated unfairly, his wisdom continues to resonate.