Monday, August 29, 2011

"The Dream Lives On"--the Legacy (?) of Dr. Martine Luther King

Like the sclerotic statues of Ancient Greece and Rome, which sought to enshrine an official history of the tyrants who terrorized nations and oppressed their people, the Washington Mall has erected a marble, bas-relief edifice commemorating the work, legacy, and legend of Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King.

Yet his legacy is mixed, though certainly praise-worthy.

Yes, his nonviolent efforts to end segregation were praiseworthy. He relied on spiritual power, nonviolence which coerced local governments to change, institutions too long immured to micromanaging the lives of their citizens, black and white. The Montgomery Alabama bus boycott was a stunning, though prolonged, victory.

Sadly, for a man who moved so many to speak up for the rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, his moral failings were an adverse distraction.

From his attendance at communist rallies in the South, to the allegations of plagiarism, to his marital infidelities, Dr. King was a man, a human being with moral failings.

Also, it seems somewhat misplaced to place so much of the power and glory on one man, when the Civil Rights Movement depended on so many people, both black and white.

His dream, that one day "the sons of slaves and the sons of slave owners would sit at the same table of brotherhood," although great Utopian rhetoric, will never pan out as long as mankind maintains his innate capacity to discriminate.

Still, Dr. King's investment in supporting minorities to be treated equally under the rule of law deserves to be recognized.

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