….History prefers legends to men. It prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to quiet deeds. History remembers the battle, but forgets the blood. Whatever history remembers of me, if it remembers anything at all, it shall only remember a fraction of the truth….
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not be surprised that a viciously arrogant, proudly ignorant, and carelessly racist and sexist individual currently serves as the 45th President of the United States. Disappointed, yes; surprised, no. King knew that the nation’s institutional commitment to White Supremacy was so pervasive and that the nation’s fear of any kind of true equality was so profound that people would voluntarily surrender their own freedom and opportunity.
The quotation that opens this blog is from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), but the truths it speaks are relevant across historical situations. People idolize, idealize, and sanitize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remembered and celebrated is not the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who actually lived and fought for a better society, growing more and more “radical” during the last years of his life with specific, prolonged attacks on capitalism and imperialism. And people ignore King’s sexism.
Preferring to exclusively remember snippets that mischaracterize his actual Dream:
….If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward….
Transforming radical ideologies–ideologies that called for nothing less than revolutionary changes–into feel-good, inspirational quotations in no way honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As with the person currently serving as President of the United States, King would not be surprised that his Dream and legecy has been not only ignored, but erased and mischaracterized in such a way as to even support White Supremacy.
Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda
Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives