Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Martin Luther King Day

I both welcome and dread the celebration of Dr. King's birthday. His contribution to world history is rarely acknowledged. The usual King Day biography runs along these lines. He got Black people into the front of the bus, gave a great speech at the Lincoln Memorial, and then was shot to death on a motel balcony.

As America is entangled in a war to colonize Iraq it is fitting to remember King's words about Vietnam. On April 4, 1967, a year to the day before his death, he spoke at Riverside Church against the war in Vietnam. On Monday we will see every politician from President Bush to the local dog catcher praise King, but in his lifetime King was villified more than he was praised. The speech against the war brought the wrath of the New York Times, members of Congress and even others in the civil rights movement who were not ready to be as bold as Dr. King.

When he celebrate King Day on Monday, January 19th, let us all remember his words about Vietnam. In fact just substitute the word Iraq for Vietnam and we will see how history is repeating itself. As every Tom, Dick and Harry races to the nearest Black church to remember King we should ask them about Iraq and remind them that King would have been opposed to this misadventure that has killed thousands of people. You can read one of my Black Commentator columns on the subject of King's anti-war activism.