As We Reflect on King’s Legacy – Is America Moving in the Wrong Direction?

Reggie Fullwood
Reggie Fullwood
              Reggie Fullwood

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Dr. Martin Luther King.
How relevant is this quote as we prepare for the Trump era in the White House?

So next week we celebrate the birthday of an American Civil Rights icon and his many accomplishments as a leader and transformative figure in U.S. history. But, it’s hard to ignore the fact that his legacy means very little to the man who will soon be the “leader of the free world.”
Clearly we have entered a new era of politics in America. Students will soon be taking political science courses in college about how the most recent presidential election transformed the U.S. political establishment.

As we recognize Dr. King’s accomplishments, we need his leadership and courage more than ever.

Last year, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. invited Donald Trump to speak before a group of over 10,000 students on MLK Day. Huh?
How do you invite The Donald of all people to speak on MLK day at a “Christian” university?

The Right Reverend invited the candidate who was most absolutely anti-every thing Martin Luther King believed in and certainly doesn’t share many of the qualities and behaviors that Jesus teaches in the Bible. You know… like the whole love thy neighbor thing or compassion for the poor and least of us.

If alive today, Dr. King would find it quite interesting that many Evangelicals are embracing Trump, a man that degrades women, minorities and immigrants, owns casinos and strip clubs, and is just downright rude and mean at times.

But some say they supported Trump because he was “real” and anti-establishment.

Since when did being a racist and bigot transform a person into someone who is real? While some are enjoying the show or ignoring his antics, some are missing the big picture.Apathy doesn’t help it only hurts. As Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Come on America – we are better than that. We can’t continue to let fear drive our politics. As we celebrate MLK’s legacy, we have to focus on creating a better country that isnot divided because of race and inequalities.

And what would Dr. King say about The Donald? “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
One of my favorite quotes is from A. Philip Randolph who said, “Equality is the heart and essence of democracy, freedom and justice.”

For African Americans, our history in this country has been one of extreme challenge and great achievement. For older blacks, the Civil Rights Movement and leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. are still very relevant and unforgettable.

For younger blacks, the story is quite different. Often times they have no frame of reference at all when it comes to segregation, Jim Crow laws, racism and bigotry. Many black youth view slavery and civil rights struggles the same way they view dinosaurs – interesting, but it was a long time ago.

The African American story is unique. The story of Blacks in America is truly a story of tragedy and triumph. At the center of that story are great men and women like Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglas and Malcolm X who helped mold black progress in this country.

Next week, we will honor a man whose name has become synonymous with peaceful protest and the fight for equality, support of the poor, and justice for all – Dr. Martin Luther King.

We talk a lot about “his dream,” but Dr. King’s life can’t be defined by the March on Washington and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Dr. King’s life cannot be defined by his personal achievements. One has to look at his life for what he fought for and how he helped to change the racial landscape of our country and the world.

King certainly wasn’t the only one who fought against injustice and inequality, but much like Rosa Parks – he was the right man at the right place at the right time.

And as we honor the legacy of Dr. King, we cannot afford to go backwards as it relates to equality and justice in America. Those who support putting up walls around the country and banning refugees and Muslims have lost focus on what America is and always should be about – freedom, justice and equality.

Let’s keep Dr. King’s goal or dream for America in perspective.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
Signing off from the MLK Monument in DC,
Reggie Fullwood

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