It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day.
–Martin Luther King
On April 4, 1968 the world was thrown into shock surrounding the death of Dr. Martin Luther king Jr.
Of course, many Black people across the country were shocked and devastated; however, there were those who, having lived long enough to understand the danger that he lived with daily, somewhat excepted the tragedy as society’s customary response to any “Black Threat.” Many of my generation, had, after being mentored by our elders about past atrocities, and living through the deaths of Emmett Till in 1955, followed by the 1963 murder of Medgar Evers, had learned to always expect the worst from this society of oppression.
Facts were, for years, Dr. King had been vilified as an anarchist and a dangerous subversive individual by the news media, U.S. government and some in white society, to some it may have seemed that the eventual, had finally happened. Yes, the untimely death of this magnificently intelligent Black man brought sorrowful suffering to Black and white souls a like, but he had left us with a fire fueled by a replenished furor for racial justice and peaceful coexistence, words which somehow in today’s chaos, seem like a nation’s dissipated moralistic aspirations of the past. The messages of the Black philosopher, King, assigned to us through his journals,
Letters, and papers, should forever be engraved in the social fabric of America, especially significant and of great importance to the moralists among us. Hero, I am not sure, only because a hero’s actions aren’t necessarily God centered. But Martin was blessed with the attributes of common knowledge, ingrained anointing in truth of conviction, selfless determination, and perhaps the greatest asset of importance, in my mind, is the influential eternal significance of personal sacrifice for the good of all.
Perhaps the most important lesson learned from Dr. King by a young Black street militant was the message of the essence of human love and respect. Strangely, what sticks out most in my mind when thinking of Dr. King, is I cannot help but wonder if his prophecy of “been to the mountain top” wasn’t acknowledgement, that he knew, his views pertaining to this society’s ills had made him a many depraved enemy and his time was running out.
Ironically, over the years, the contradictory nature of white America’s political and societal behavior has, lifted Dr. King to a level of national recognition, along with eternal and well-deserved admiration. God bless the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and may this nation forever continue to honor his legacy of persistence, perseverance and insurmountable courage.
Chester Todd’s One Black Man’s Opinion