Habari Gani 2023 Vol 3: A Focus on Recent Events
By Makheru Bradley
January 21, 2023 11:50PM
We titled this series Habari Gani, a Kiswahili term we use during Kwanzaa, translated as “What’s New”, or “What is the News?” Our intent is to cover recent events that impact Afrikan people.
Celebrating 94 years of Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. (January 15, 1929-January 15, 2023)The Dreamer
The ink was not even dry on the bill President Ronald Reagan signed in 1983, making Dr. Martin L. King’s birthday a federal holiday, when the struggle to define the reality of Dr. King’s legacy began. The majority of the American power structure had fought tooth and nail since 1968 against Congressman John Conyers’ King Holiday legislation.
Power structure opposition to the King Holiday was no surprise. After his speech at the March on Washington the FBI declared Dr. King to be, “the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation.”
While the power structure capitulated on the holiday, they utilized all of their political, educational, and media resources, to shape an image of Dr. King that would be non-threatening to their hegemony. Our consciousness was bombarded with Dr. King’s words from his “I Have A Dream” speech. He was defined fundamentally as a “dreamer,” deeply rooted in the American dream. The power structure sought to freeze Dr. King’s legacy on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. They have largely been successful.
I was not involved in the efforts to make Dr. King’s birthday a federal holiday, primarily because I don’t believe we need approval or authority from anyone to celebrate our heroes. However, I have been involved in the struggle to define Dr. King’s reality and meaning to his people.
In that context, I offer some excerpts from one of his most important speeches, “The Three Evils of Society” delivered at the National Conference on New Politics on August 31, 1967:
Seldom if ever has such a diverse and truly ecumenical gathering convened under the aegis of politics in our nation, and I want to commend the leadership of the National Conference on New Politics for all of the great work that they have done in making this significant convention possible. Indeed by your very nature we affirm that something new is taking place on the American political horizon. We have come here from the dusty plantations of the Deep South and the depressing ghettos of the North. We have come from the great universities and the flourishing suburbs. We have come from Appalachian poverty and from conscience-stricken wealth. But we have come.
And we have come here because we share a common concern for the moral health of our nation. We have come because our eyes have seen through the superficial glory and glitter of our society and observed the coming of judgment. Like the prophet of old, we have read the handwriting on the wall.
We have seen our nation weighed in the balance of history and found wanting.
What happens to a dream deferred? It leads to bewildering frustration and corroding bitterness.
And so the collision course is set. The people cry for freedom and the Congress attempts to legislate repression.
It seems that our legislative assemblies have adopted Nero as their patron saint and are bent on fiddling while our cities burn.
What they truly advocate is Socialism for the rich and Capitalism for the poor.
I suspect that we are now experiencing the coming to the surface of a triple prong sickness that has been lurking within our body politic from its very beginning. That is the sickness of racism, excessive materialism and militarism.
Racism can well be that corrosive evil that will bring down the curtain on Western Civilization.
The fact is that Capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor both black and white, both here and abroad.
We must also realize that the problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.
We are arrogant in professing to be concerned about the freedom of foreign nations while not setting our own house in order.
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people the giant triplets of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world, declaring eternal opposition to poverty, racism and militarism.
On some positions, it is necessary for the moral individual to take a stand that is neither safe, nor politic nor popular; but he must do it because it is right. And we say to our nation tonight, we say to our Government, we even say to our FBI, we will not be harassed, we will not make a butchery of our conscience, we will not be intimidated and we will be heard.
“Professing to be concerned about the freedom of foreign nations while not setting our own house in order”A recent headline in the USA Today reads: “Congress got rid of a free lunch for all program. That means some students are going hungry”
$11 billion to guarantee free meals to all public school students was too much for the corrupt two-party system, but over $110 billion to support the asinine war in Ukraine isn't.
“The USDA spends about $19 billion annually on its regular income-based school lunch program. Making school lunches free to all students cost approximately $11 billion more.
Universal school meals can promote academic achievement, keep kids healthier and reduce "lunch shaming" of students who have unpaid meal debt and can't afford their lunch, said Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for the national School Nutrition Association.
According to the national campaign No Kid Hungry, run by the nonprofit Share Our Strength, "students who eat school breakfast have been shown to achieve 17.5% higher scores on standardized math tests and attend 1.5 more days of school per year" on average.
In the context of such immoral political decisions, Dr. King had this to say on March 18, 1968.
"And I come by here to say that America, too, is going to hell if she doesn’t use her wealth. If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she, too, will go to hell. And I will hear America through her historians, years and generations to come, saying, 'We built gigantic buildings to kiss the skies. We built gargantuan bridges to span the seas. Through our spaceships we were able to carve highways through the stratosphere. Through our airplanes we are able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. Through our submarines we were able to penetrate oceanic depths.'
It seems that I can hear the God of the universe saying, 'Even though you have done all of that, I was hungry and you fed me not, I was naked and you clothed me not. The children of my sons and daughters were in need of economic security and you didn’t provide it for them. And so you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness.' This may well be the indictment on America."
The Political Nero’s and Hypocrites of 2023Every year during the King Holiday festivities various politicians and public figures, whom in practice are the absolute antithesis of what Dr. King represented, turn out in droves to extol his virtues. Political Nero’s who are militarists, fiddling while America’s cities burn in poverty, homelessness, crime and violence, drug addiction, and the urban removal of Black people via gentrification, address various King celebrations. For them hypocrisy is a way of life.
Perhaps the most incredible scene was the warmongering President Biden speaking from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King was co-pastor with his father, Martin Luther King, Sr. Perhaps, driven by their moral conscience, none of the children of Dr. Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King attended Biden's speech. I think that was a highly honorable tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thus, the struggle to define Dr. King according to our own interests continues.
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author)
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