Monday, 21 January 2013
THE KING-IN MEMORY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"Has anybody seen my good friend Martin/Can you tell me where he's gone/He freed a lot of people/But it seems the good die young yeah/I just looked around and he was gone"-Marvin Gaye: Abraham, Martin & John.
This Monday's schedule for NBA games on MLK day see the Indiana Pacers and the Memphis Grizzlies facing off, as well as the New Orleans Hornets hosting the Sacramento Kings and the Charlotte Bobcats playing host to the Houston Rockets. If that wasn't enough the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Atlanta Hawks play, along with the battle for New York between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks and a Californian clash between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors. Then as an extra treat, going into the night the San Antonio Spurs head to Philadelphia to play the Sixers, while the Washington Wizards duel with the Portland Trailblazers, before all eyes watch the Chicago Bulls face the Los Angeles Lakers. Still, this nine game, event of a day is much more than NBA aficionado's getting to see everyone from Kobe to Carmelo play on their T.V.. This day means much more than that, like the NBA's halftime tributes. This day is for the honor of the great Martin Luther King, Jr.
Last year when this writer was travelling back home from New York he made a connection in Atlanta airport. There as many commuters where rushing to catch their next flight I came across a display paying tribute to the late clergyman and activist of the African-American Civil Right Movement. Among this display was photo's information and many personal effects of the man, including his suit, handwritten notes and a baseball and bat that he used to play with his son. This moving display captured the heart of a man whose main inspiration as a child of how to be and treat people came from this man from Atlanta, Georgia.
A man that believed that all men should be equal regardless of their race, creed or background. A man who next to Malcolm X fought-albeit in different ways-for the rights of African-Americans and people across the world. A figure as inspirational as the Kennedy's in the political world, or the Dylan's, Belafonte's and Ali's in the music, film and sport world of entertainment. A man who had a dream, that awoke a nation and opened the eyes of the world. A man that influenced America and inspired the world. A man who went to war with love against hatred and made peace.
"I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today"-Martin Luther King Jr, 1963.
A man whose dedication and devotion to the cause could be seen more than just on the paper of his autobiography, compiled of memoirs, speeches and dear letters to his wife Coretta Scott King. A man who moved a million African-American men and billions more around the world regardless of race, creed or gender to believe in the change his non-violent protests could produce. He fought the fight with an extended hand but an unclenched fist, with all his heart and soul. The fight for his dream. The same fight Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poiter almost got run off the road by the Klan for. The same dream Ali fought so hard for outside the ring. The same "war is not the answer" fight Marvin Gaye sung for with all his soul. The same dream Malcolm X gave his life for just as he was seeing MLK's visionary non-violent side. As Mr. Carter, Jay-Z said "Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk, Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run". Look at the world now. Look at the friend you're talking too. He may have different skin but he's still your kin, your brother and without what Martin did, you might have had the taken for granted opportunity to share each others company so gracefully.
It's what Stevie Wonder sung 'Happy Birthday' for. The ultimate protest song that isn't meant for everybody's special day really like everyone thinks. Moreover it's for one mans special day. Today is the day we give thanks to a man whose birthday was the 15th January and a man who last year finally received his memorial in Washington D.C., next to President Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves. A stone memorial near the magnificent mall where he dutifully delivered his most amazing address. A soaring speech which took the people to the mountain top and promised land...and in spirit and his honor he got there with us. A man who opposed the Vietnam War and won the Nobel Peace Prize. A man who walked everywhere from Birmingham to Montgomery and now thanks to hi marches, hundreds of streets in the United States Of America carry his name. A man who gave the poor a voice and made the rich think twice. A man who asked "how long" and responded "not long". A man who never fought but instead showed love in the face of all the injustice and hate. A man who took all that was wrong with the world and made it right. A true leader and legend whose legacy is seen in the acts of kindness and humanity.
He gave the world it's years back. They should have never taken the life of a young 39 year old man. As that fateful, hateful shot rang out in the balcony of Memphis, Tennessee, the worlds heart broke. Still, because of the mans unwavering spirit, the weariness never took its soul. It's a crying shame that as the decades pass and the generations handed down more and more young people won't know as much about MLK and his day as they should outside what they learn in the classroom. These days in some ways it's good we take for granted when people of all backgrounds and beliefs get along. Still it's important to know where this all came from and the teachings of the man who really brought it all together. The lessons learned could and should still be applied to some of the real problems that exist today. Because after all peace, love and understanding is something we should work at every day like a labor of love and this man who never rested with his dream, but instead worked on it, knew this.
A man who took the beliefs of Jesus Christ and Ghandi and made the people see them for real with a genuine stand. So whatever you do on this holiday, or whatever special event is scheduled, spare more than a thought of consideration for a man who had everyone's well-being on his mind, big heart and pure soul. Act now to make sure others see beyond the history and right through to a man who did something about all he cared and believed in. What he did was for us. Today is for him.
"I just never understood/How a man who died for good/Could not have a day that would/Be set aside for his recognition/Because it should never be/Just because some cannot see/The dream as clear as he/That they should make it become an illusion/And we all know everything/That he stood for time will bring/For in peace our hearts will sing/Thanks to Martin Luther King/Happy birthday to you/Happy birthday to you/Happy birthday". Stevie Wonder: Happy Birthday.