I meant to get to this, yesterday — but the time got away. I’ve run versions of this in 2011, and 2014 — but because 53 years ago yesterday, most of the world first read the words quoted in blue below — I’ll run it yet again. It never gets old — it never will become irrelevant. As we listen to a purported billionaire (and reality TV-style purported presidential candidate) tell us to turn our backs on, and shun, so many of our brown brothers and sisters — these words have renewed, and immediate currency.
Perhaps no one black man in America — in the last sixty-five years — has so changed the futures, and fortunes of so many, permanently — and for the better (and so his portrait will return to my masthead for the weekend):
. . . .My friends, I must say to you. . . . it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture. . . .
Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children. . . .
[W]hen you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”. . . .
Of course, the above is quoted from the letter from the Birmingham jail — April 16, 1963. Namaste all. Serve wisely; serve well.
. . . .Anonymous said…
Amazing, heart-felt, “goose-bump” words you wrote. Your writing brought tears to my eyes … thank you for reminding all of us reading your blog that discrimination should NEVER happen. We are all different, but not one better than another. We all need to treat each other with dignity as that’s how we would want to be treated ourselves. Thank you for your eloquent words.
MLK was always one of my heroes when I was a young child. I wrote a paper on him when I was in grade school and, although I didn’t understand the ramifications of what he was trying to do at the time, I certainly do today. Young minds are very impressionable. We all need to teach our children about this great man.
January 18, 2011 at 10:53 AM . . .
And so, I urge you my friends (and even those I do not yet count as friends) — over the coming weekend — and every day thereafter — at least for a moment each day — do serve wisely; serve well. He would have done the same. And he would have said the Donald’s “vision” of America. . . is no vision, at all.