April 05, 2007

The MLK Jr. you don't see on TV. It's become a TV ritual: Every year on April 4, as Americans commemorate Martin Luther King's death, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader." The remarkable thing about these reviews of King's life is that several years - his last years - are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.
  • Powerful. Thanks, HW.
  • Nice link. I'd like to see the full text of that speech. Off to Google... Text and audio of the speech. (Warning: FF alerts an "unresponsive script" that you can stop running, mp3 download is 22MB) I do remember reading a thing about the James-Earl-Ray-didn't-do-it theories of his assassination, and one prominent one had it that King was killed not because of what he did for civil rights, but because of the growing belief in some circles that he was trying to turn the US into a communist nation.
  • And evidently I am too stupid to notice that they're linked on a better site in HWingo's original post link. THAT'S BECAUSE I HATE POOR PEOPLE AND BLACK PEOPLE.
  • Thanks for that, HW. A powerful and relevant speech.
  • Why so hard on yourself, mct? Try a new spin: "And evidently I'm too swamped with Really Important Responsibilities That People Depend On Me To Attend To to notice they're linked on a better site...."
  • Nice Link (damned commie shill)
  • That's interesting HW, as now that you mention it I had wondered myself at the time of the assassination where and what had he been doing after his 'dream' speech and the sudden enormity of loss I watched on television. From where I was it seemed he'd been doing little. It's good to understand.
  • I remember King speaking out against the Viet Nam war. He was a powerful orator.
  • You see this so often in history. A person advocates a moral position that ultimately becomes unassailable, so the best that vested interests opposed to justice can do is ignore or cover up the thinking that got the person there, or contrariwise where their moral thinking took them.
  • This is both enlightening and scary. My first thought was, "no wonder he was shot." Espousing radical change in the U.S. is a great way to make yourself a target, especially when your words threaten the plutocratic status quo. My admiration for the man has grown exponentially, as well as my cynicism vis-a-vis the embedded class structure in America. Great post, HawthorneWingo.
  • I remember they did an X-Files episode about that a while back. When the C.S.M. was ordered to shoot King in a flashback, Communism was the reason they gave him.
  • There's also a good argument to be made that his "keep the money in the community" position was reason for alarm from the powers that be. I think in some ways kids get way too much MLK - hearing the I-have-a-dream speech "thousands and thousands of times" (quote from a This American Life radio show I can't find) and yet not enough things like this with context. I have also seen things from right-wing folks with bulleted lists of reasons why Martin Luther King is a charlatan, and one of the worst people ever. Things like "'Martin Luther' isn't even his real name", "he plagiarized his doctoral thesis" and "he beat white women". Which all have some basis in the truth, but aren't aimed at understanding anything - just at inflaming others. You haven't heard the "Beyond Vietnam" speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 - and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people." Nice post HWingo, thanks.
  • King was surely no saint, but for once Americans were able to look beyond the human failure and see the striving for the good.
  • Isn't amazing how someone can be a seminal figure in the history of the human race and still have human flaws? H-dog, sometimes I think we barely heard him then, and his voice is just a memory now...