Whether you like history or not I think most people can agree that the Hamilton soundtrack is amazing. On this Martin Luther King Jr. day two of the hit songs come to mind: the aforementioned in the title, History Has it’s Eye’s on You and Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story. Many people I follow have taken upon themselves to ensure that they not only tell MLK Jr’s story, but that they don’t shy away from what made him an influential leader.
He was indeed a man that advocated for peace, however he was not ignorant to the fact that violence was a part of the struggle. He went to prison for his beliefs and he and his fellow leaders were met with violence for their protests. In other words he was an un-ironic social justice warrior. He was trained to protest (see the movie Selma) and he dealt with trolls in real life who were not afraid to publicly show how they felt.
To imply in today’s climate that he’d want colorblindness and for us to hold hands singing kumbaya dishonors his legacy. So, rather than go on and wax poetic I will let him speak for himself. After all while race was a huge part of his platform, it should be noted he focused on issue’s of class as well. Not everything he said was meant to make people comfortable, and that’s a good thing. This Martin Luther King Jr. day get uncomfortable and learn something new.
The of course obligatory “I Have a Dream” speech. Please really listen to what he’s saying. Here’s a link to a written copy for clarity: Speech
“They tell me that one tenth of one percent of the population controls more than forty percent of the wealth. Oh America, how often have you taken the necessities from the masses to give…”
“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
“Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of dedicated individuals…”
“As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be rich even if he has a billion dollars.”
“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?…It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
“I can see nothing more urgent for America to work passionately and unrelentingly to get rid of the disease of racism.”
“Why is equality so assiduously avoided? Why does white America delude itself, and how does it rationalize the evil it retains?
The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class Utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.”
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart.”