Monday, September 12, 2011

We Made a Liar of MLK

The country is very excited about the new MLK Memorial on the National Mall. I am ashamed. I am ashamed of what we have allowed to become of his legacy, while paying homage to his image. The "I Have a Dream Speech" is epic; but it's not my favorite King speech. One of my favorite speeches is his "Give Us the Ballot Speech" given on 17 May 1957 in Washington, D.C., in which King makes the United States this promise:

"Give us the ballot, and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill and send to the sacred halls of Congress men who will not sign a "Southern Manifesto" because of their devotion to the manifesto of justice.

Give us the ballot, and we will place judges on the benches of the South who will do justly and love mercy, and we will place at the head of the southern states governors who, have felt not only the tang of the human, but the glow of the Divine."

Seven years later we were given the ballot; and more and more, on Election Day we stay at home. We did come out in record numbers to support now President Obama. But then, we as a community stayed home during the next election in large and dissappointing numbers. We failed to send the president the support he needed to get done in Washington what the middle class and the poor needed to make agressive progress. We lived up, in some measure, to the dream but failed to live up to the promise Martin Luther King, Jr. made back in 1957.

We were given the vote and then we failed to send men and women to congress of goodwill, allowing the election of narrow minded obstructionists. We placed judges on benches who hold corporations in higher esteem than justice or mercy. While we sat out the mid-term elections, governors were elected to office who have only felt the swelling of their own hubris; and are wholly unfamiliar with either humanity or the Divine.

It is time to stop living the dream and start keeping the promise.

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