Would Dr. King have been invited?By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Aug 28, 2013 - 8:12:55 AM
Analysts say 2013 March on Washington was production without productivity
“Those who say that Dr. King would not be invited by those convening (the) 50th anniversary March on Washington are correct,” said Dr. Jared Ball, associate professor of Communications Studies at Morgan State University, and co-editor of A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X.
“Similarly, those saying Barack Obama is disingenuous when, as is again happening, he tries to assume, symbolically, the position held by King,” he continued. President Obama was the keynote speaker, with former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton on Aug. 28, at a rally ending a week of Washington celebrations and marches.
“But these points themselves are insufficient; neither (Dr.) King’s false heirs nor the presidency of false hopes would exist at all without first the assassination of (Dr.) King and then the perennial abuse of his history and image,” said Dr. Ball.
Ironically, on Aug. 28, 2008—the 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech,” then Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) accepted the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for his first term at the party’s convention in Denver, without once mentioning Dr. King or the historic 1963 march.
“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’” Dr. King famously asked in that speech. “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. ... We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote, and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”
“I think that (Dr.) King would be greatly disappointed, because he thought that Blacks and Whites could come together,” psychiatrist Dr. Frances Cress-Welsing, author of The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation told The Final Call.
“But, you know my thesis is that if the racial divide did not exist, and if people were just focusing on people, regardless of their color, White people would disappear. None of the groups, none of the official leaders and organizations are dealing with an analysis of racism,” she said. “Everybody is focusing on either protesting, or begging and pleading and hope, but nobody is doing an analysis of what racism-White supremacy is all about.
“People who classify themselves as White don’t want to label their survival game. They want to pretend that it’s not there. As far as I heard, nobody was talking about White responsibility. There was no person, no person, no White person to express what White people feel, and what White responsibility is. That’s completely ignored.”
“I think it’s complicated,” Dr. Gerald Horne, Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston told The Final Call. “Part of the problem is that the United States as a country has moved to the right. It’s difficult for an aggrieved Black community to move to the left when the country is moving to the right.”
But Black leaders do not utilize one of their most powerful weapons—the court of public opinion in the international community, according to Dr. Horne. “Why do Black people in the United States, who are so aggrieved, have this powerful weapon in the international community which they ignore? How do you explain that? It’s difficult to explain. I would explain it in a number of different ways.
“Number one, the people are not as politically sophisticated as they think they are. There is also a problem in the sense that there is a disconnect between the leaders and the people they represent, in the sense that the people are really hurting. The leadership, they may sense the hurt, but again they know that the need of their people is the third rail for Black leaders, as Paul Robeson, as Malcolm X, as Martin Luther King,” all learned, he said. “So there’s this force-field that pushes Black leaders away from doing what’s necessary to relieve the suffering of those they purport to represent.”
Dr. King himself would not be invited to speak at this march, Dr. Ball told The Final Call: “The real politics of Dr. King were not invited down there on The Mall, so obviously a living, breathing King would not have been invited. He would not have been invited because he would have been the first to note that we have a Black president who has done more to militarize the African continent and bomb the global community than any president before him, and has presided over the greatest theft of Black wealth in the history of the country,” in the form of the mortgage banking industry meltdown and subsequent foreclosure crisis. “And he (Dr. King) would have opposed these wars.”
“I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—my own government,” Dr. King said famously in a 1967 address, raising his voice against the Vietnam War. “There is something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that would praise you when you say, ‘be nonviolent toward (segregationist Selma, Ala. Sheriff) Jim Clark!’ but will curse and damn you when you say, ‘Be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children!’ There is something wrong with that press!” Dr. King continued.
“I’m convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we, as a nation, must undergo a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies,” he said.
That Martin Luther King Jr. would certainly have been unwelcome at the 50th anniversary commemoration of the 1963 “I Have a Dream,” speech by Dr. King, said Dr. Ball. “Even signs protesting Jim Crow and mass incarceration were forcibly taken down on threat of arrest,” at the 2013 march, he said, similar to the editing of the text of the speech delivered by Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chair John Lewis, the youngest speaker at the 1963 March. “So you had a very staged event that was carefully arranged to make sure it did not go beyond any accepted lines,” said Dr. Ball.
Dr. King was clear-eyed in 1963. In his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” a few months before the 1963 March, he wrote: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council or the Ku Klux Klan, but the White moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’
“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. I have watched White churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities,” Dr. King wrote.
A travesty, according to Dr. Ball. “So, to have the leadership of the Democratic Party participating, these are the very people who have led us backward,” while truly progressive grassroots leaders were left off the program was “really a disgrace,” he said.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, a prominent speaker at the 20th anniversary of the March in 1983, was purposely not invited this time around. “A lot of the real progressive leadership has been assassinated, exiled or still in prison,” Dr. Ball continued. “They are not invited. Tavis Smiley was not invited. (Dr.) Cornell West wasn’t even invited. So even some of the mainstream, left-leaning, but certainly not radical or revolutionary critics have not been invited,” Dr. Ball observed, a frustrating reality he said, “in terms of the premise of everything being focused (this time), around the Democratic Party.”