The world has once again celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. There is not a person in the USA who does not know who King is, or what he stood for. King is revered as one of the greatest African American leaders in the history of the world. In 2023 the African Americans he died for need to look back at two of his famous speeches in order to measure their progress.
Let’s start with the famous, “I Have A Dream” speech. This is the most famous of all of King’s speeches. The speech detailed a concept of how whites in a few southern states would embrace African Americans as equals. If we look at 2023 to a certain degree this has taken place. In Mississippi progress has been made, even in the Delta region of the state. One example of this is the fact that Isola, MS has an African American mayor, Dimp Powell. Back when King was walking the planet the chances of this happening were literally slim to none. The major universities in Mississippi have African American students who graduate with degrees in various fields. African Americans in Mississippi have made strides towards King’s dream.
King talked about equality in Alabama. An African American, Artur Davis, held a position in the House of Representatives and even ran for Governor of Alabama. This action would not have even been a thought in the 1960’s George Wallace era. Since King has died African Americans have been able to play football at the University of Alabama. The first player to receive time was John Mitchell in 1971. Since that time the University of Alabama has come to embrace African American student athletes. An African American, Jalen Hurts, became the first African American quarterback to win a national title for the university. In Alabama African Americans have made some progress toward King’s dream goals.
Let’s take a look at another King speech, “Which Way Its Soul Shall Go.” If you have not heard of this speech do not fret. King delivered this speech in 1967 just scant months before he was assassinated in Memphis, TN. This speech included the one quote that African Americans needed to hear in order to achieve success in the USA. King stated, “I’m sorry to have to say that the vast majority of White Americans are racists, either consciously or unconsciously.” This statement by King is very rarely heard. I stumbled upon it while checking a link for a 10th grade English assignment. Honestly, at first I couldn’t believe King said this because of some of his other quotes. African American progress or understanding of this statement by King is embarrassing.
Look back at any of the King Day celebrations you may have attended over the years. Was this quote the focal point of the festivities? I had to dig deep on Google just to find the quote again. I could easily find transcripts of many of King’s other speeches, not this one. Where would African Americans be if this quote about white people would have been embraced by them? Would African Americans still be chasing white acceptance while erasing their blackness in 2023? This quote delivered by King should have slapped reality into African Americans. Yet, you still see African Americans ignoring the truth that King put in simple layman’s terms. African American children are being mentally neutered via an education system parents foolishly believe will make whites accept them. The progress African Americans have made, in regard to this quote, is a shame and a disgrace to King.
African Americans should celebrate King’s life and his achievements. African Americans, use one hand to pat yourselves on the back for the progress you have made toward manifesting some of King’s ideals. Use the other hand to slap yourselves in the face for not paying attention to one of the quotes that King gave his life to deliver to you.
Frank James IV © 2023
The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not of the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper or HT Group, LLC, its staff or management. “Being Frank” is a bi-weekly column exclusive to the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper.