Newspaper logo  
 
 
   MLK, Jr. Isn’t the Only Black Achiever Worthy of Recognition

SPEAKING OUT:

MLK, Jr. Isn’t the Only Black Achiever Worthy of Recognition

by David Flores

On January 20, our nation celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, rightfully recognizing the achievements of one of America's greats. African Americans are understandably proud of this American hero who will forever stand alongside men such as Mohatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela as a moral giant and beacon of hope for humanity. And even though onetime Senate Majority leader Trent Lott recently found himself squirming in the hot seat trying to justify his past opposition to the King Holiday, the political establishment as a whole has by and large embraced the late civil rights figure and added him to the pantheon of great American leaders.

Other important men who pushed the struggle for black liberation, however, have not been as warmly embraced by the broader political culture as of yet, and likely never will be.

Consider, for instance, the likes of Malcolm X and Denmark Vesey. Malcolm's story is recent enough, and has been told so many times, that there's no need to recount the particulars here.

But Vesey, on the other hand, has languished in comparative obscurity since July 2, 1822, the day he was hanged for conspiring, along with numerous South Carolina field-slaves, to secure the black man's freedom through armed revolution. He had been inspired to act by the example of Toussaint L'Overture, the liberator of Haiti, a military genius who engineered victories over both the English army and Napoleon's troops and sent white plantation owners fleeing from his island nation.

Vesey, alas, was betrayed by house-slaves who, fearing the loss of the relative privilege they enjoyed over the brutally overworked field hands, alerted their masters to the impending plot.

It is worth remebering King as well as Vesey and Malcolm these days, because their stories shine a bright light upon one of the glaring hipocrisies of our age. The reason that all but the most unreconstructed racist white politicians celebrate King, but would rather see the names of Malcolm X and Denmark Vesey condemned to the ash-heaps of history, is so plain and simple it scarcely bears elucidation: King was a pacifist, but Malcolm and Vesey pressed the cause of armed struggle.

By and large, white America has never shied away from celebrating wars of liberation—except when liberation meant liberation from them.

George W. Bush spent part of the King holiday celebrating the slain civil rights leader's "working peacefully to resolve racial conflict through speeches, marches and countless nonviolent activities." He spent the rest of it fuming over the French government's announcement that it would refuse to back any early military action against Iraq. As a result, Colin Powell spent the day pressing Europeans to relent; and Condoleeza Rice spent the day composing an editorial to the New York Times pressing the administration's case for war on a skeptical public.

The contrast between the lip-service our leaders pay to King's pacifist ideals and the actions they take behind the scenes could not be more stark, nor more telling.

It is not enough that our nation grant Dr. King a holiday for his memory to be truly honored in the way it deserves. We must demand that our leaders learn to govern by his ideals also.


Mr. Flores writes from Parkville, MD.


Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on February 10, 2003.
  
FEBRUARY 2003
LOCAL NEWS
·NEWS BRIEFS
·CALENDARS:
· Curran Calls for End to Executions
· Maryland Ranked 20th Nationwide in Toxic Pollution Linked to Respiratory Disease
· Beleaguered Center Determined to Remain a ‘Funnel to the Poor’
· Grantmaking Soars Despite Down Economy
· SPORTS: O’s Change Front Office, But Not Much Else
· Can Exercising Eminent Domain Be Justifiable?
· The Future of “Smart Growth”
LETTERS
· Letters
·OPEN LETTERS:
 ·  Another Open Letter To America from a Canadian
 ·  To France: We Know Your ‘No’ to Bush Doesn’t Make You Liars
 ·  To Bush: Use Wisdom Statesmanship
 ·  To Limbaugh Advertisers: Don’t Support Those Who Support Racism
 ·  To Peter Jennings & ABC: Your Double Standards Are Showing
 ·  To Wolf Blitzer: Good Thing CNN Is Not Our Only News Source
 ·  To Senator Kyl: Beware Phony Conservatives
 ·  To the US Ambassador to New Zealand
 ·  (01/16) An Appeal to Bill Gates, Ted Turner, or Some Other Billionaire
ART & ENTERTAINMENT
·Book Review: New Koufax Biography Depicts Jewish Pitcher’s ‘Pursuit of Excellence’
·Baltimore Poets Join National Day of Poetry Against the War on February 12
NEWS MEDIA CRITIQUE
·The Great Deregulator
·“Light for all”? Only if you connect the dots.
·Ad Copy Received by Email Shows How Search Engines Can Skew Results to Make Profit
·Does White House Have a ‘Fetish for Secrecy’?
·Why the Public Needs to Check Out These “Best 9/11 Sites”
·“Astroturf” Letters to the Editor
·Brit Vets Say Anthrax Vaccine May Have Been Thrown Overboard
·NPR’s “Justice Talking” Takes on Yucca Mountain & More
·The Curious Timing of Ashcroft’s Scott Ritter Investigation
SPEAKING OUT
·EDITORIALS:
 ·  Later
·(01/19) Massive Anti-War Rally Rocks Nation's Capital
·(1/17) Will the White House Please Slow Down and Listen to Reason about Iraq before It's Too Late?
·MLK, Jr. Isn’t the Only Black Achiever Worthy of Recognition
·Bush and Decison Making
·Physician Details Horrors To Come in a War against Iraq
· Multilateralist Cowards Turn to UN When They Should Govern Themselves
· America: Wake Up!
·Eyewitness in Iraq: It’s Not Enough
·Local Pastor’s Speech on Martin Luther King, Jr. Stresses Having Courage, Mastering Fears, and Overcoming Oppression
·What Makes People Believe Bush Lies? Could It Be Media Repetition?
·What Can the Average Citizen Do in the War on Terrorism?
·The Real State of the Union
·There Is No War on Terrorism
·War with Iraq: What’s in It for Us?
·“Corporations Are Not People,” Says Pennsylvania Town
· Crowd in DC says, "Give Peace a Chance"; Activists Not Swayed by Powell’s UN Address
NATION & WORLD
· The Water Barons: A Handful of Corporations Seek to Privatize the World’s Water
· Brazil’s President Picks Butter Over Guns
· Text of the October 11, 2002 National Security Resolution
· The Cause of the Corporate Collapse—and Its Cure
· Bush Administration Causes Damage on Many Fronts
· Nukes-in-Space in Columbia's Wake
· Humanitarian Group Fined for Taking Medicine to Iraq
FROM OTHER SITES
· Websites We Like!
· Outstanding Analysis & Perspective

Public Service Ads: