Monday, January 19, 2009

Thoughts on Dr. King!

Last night a new documentary on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. aired on the History Channel. It featured President Bill Clinton, Dr. Condoleeza Rice (No, really!) Mrs. Juanita Abernathy with commentary from Chuck D and John Legend. It was modern and like all updates informative. I got a problem with John Legend and Chuck D being on it. Chuck was a baby and John wasn't even born yet or was just getting born. None contributed to that part of the movement and there are more than enough living participants and planners still with us to add insight not just the ones we see on every panel. Dig?

But it bothered me not because I don't care for Dr. King but if you ignorantly went by these documentaries you'd think there was no Human Rights Movement, no Civil Rights Movement, no movement towards Social and Economic Justice before Dr. King came on the scene. It's as if the movement started in 1954.

Dr. King great as he was did not operate in a vacuum. He did not originate alot of the tactics that he is well known for. He may have introduced them to a mass movement, he may have improved or even dare say I....

Dare! Dare!

Perfected some but it is dis ingenious, unfair and dangerous to constantly credit Dr. King and rob the others of their place. So I'm going to speak on a few and provide links where I am able so that you can check it out for yourself. Cool?


Let's talk about Bayard Rustin.


Bayard Rustin! He organized the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs where Dr. King gave his famous "I have a Dream" speech. Rustin studied Henry David Thoreau and had travelled to India to study Gandhian Non Violent Resistance Techniques from Gandhi! He was organizing and teaching these techniques years before and in fact taught them to Dr. King and many in the struggle. He had also been on the front lines fighting for the Scottsboro Boys earlier.
His candor about his sexuality is one of the reasons he is not known widely but he was instrumental in the founding of the Congress of Racial Equality. (James L. Farmer Jr.) He organized with A. Philip Randolph. (President Brotherhood of Sleep Car Porters) He went to Prison for resisting the draft, as a practicing Quaker he contributed to the Pacifist movement.

Rustin deserves a proper place and a setting in talks about the struggle.

Next, let's talk about Vernon Johns!


Dr. Vernon Johns!

Didn't Kareem Abdul Jabaar produce a movie about him?
Yeah, James Earl Jones starred in the lead role.

Dr. Johns was speaking out against segregation and Black and White folks complicity in keeping the American Apartheid System alive.

What about Dr. Ralph Abernathy?


Dr. Ralph Abernathy! He was one of the Generals of the Nonviolent Resistance Movement with Dr. King!
You mean that dude who confirmed that Dr. King wasn't always faithful to Mrs. Scott-King?

No, I mean the dude who turned Dr. King on to Black Birmingham, helped organize the movement, went to jail and took just as many lumps as Dr. King who happened to confirm what we already had known for thirty years. That dude!
What about the real Rosa Parks!

The real Rosa Parks Mista Jaycee?

The myth paints her as an old woman who just got tired and didn't give up her seat.
The real Rosa Parks and her Husband Mr. Parks were both activists long before the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They each taught classes in NAACP on resistance. It was a tactic that the students were going to use. One of her students Claudette Colburn ( I hope I got the name right, forgive me if I didn't) used the tactic one week before on a bus and was arrested.

The Church leadership chose not to use Claudette as the face of the movement cause she was a Single Unwed Mother. Mrs. Parks however was a young Woman, Married and worked in the local NAACP office. She took up the mantle a week later and refused to give up her seat! This time the Black Church Community had person with an untarnished reputation.
If Mrs. Parks's resistance had failed someone else from her class would have stepped up. They had made a plan and had tactics.

What about E.D. Nixon? He financed Mrs. Parks bail. You had to own a house in order to post bail for someone in Birmingham at that time. You couldn't just pass the hat. Mr. Nixon was one of the few Black people that owned their property. He was very important logistically for Dr. King and the Movement yet he is unrecognized today.

What about the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee. Stokley Carmichael and H. Rap Brown were both members. They both walked the front lines. Stokley did love and respect Dr. King talking tactics with him long after he became a spokesman for the Black Panthers and coined the phrase Black Power. Remember the Panthers got the idea for their symbol from the Voting Committee of Lourdes County, Alabama that Stokley helped to organize. The mascot was a Black Panther! The Southern Democratic Leadership of Alabama used a White Rooster as their symbol.

They were registering voters, doing freedom rides and sit ins before Dr. King intersected with them. Why aren't their views in relation to Dr. King discussed? The Movement didn't start in 54. It didn't end with Obama!
It's an ongoing struggle and I fear that by neglecting Carmichael, Brown, Nixon, Parks, Abernathy, Johns, Adam Clayton Powell and Rustin. We are losing vital information that will keep us from making crucial mistakes as we seize the future.

Just ranting!

BE Careful! BE Mindful! BE Prayerful!



Miss.Stefanie said...

Amazing people!

Revvy Rev said...

I understand what the producers were doing. The movement is personified by MLK, but it is well known that it was much more than Dr. King.

In fact, it was largely women - who never get their just due because the movement was infected by patriarchy. In addition to women, there were also youth and children who were the energy behind it along with whites and other ethnicities, various professionals and clergy, poor and rich, and many, many others.

Without these contributors there would have been no movement and no Civil Rights era.

Beautifully.Conjured.Up said...

This post was the TRUTH!!!

Like you said, I'm not bashing Dr. King for he did a great thing, but there were others who came before him whose stories are yet to be heard. One of the ways that I knew about the people in this post was because of my ex member of SNCC and The Black Panther Party, which actually started in Alabama and it was non-violent (but most people say otherwise...shame).

I'm going to suggest other people read this post...thank you for posting it.

Mista Jaycee said...

What I am trying to say is that it was a team effort. I would like to hear you Mom's SNCC and Panther Experiences. I will be writing some commentary about why Panthers like Rep. Bobby Rush and others have not been more vocal or on the front lines for those still imprisoned and in exile.

I'd like to listen to your Mom.

Ziggy Za. said...

Appreciating the knowledge, keep it coming! It's a shame that we have to go to the 'net for facts, because it won't be in a book (not in schools, at least). Thanks again for blogging about my favorite people in my favorite time.

Dwane T. said...

I ham a lifelong and loyal student of Dr. King. Having said that, thank you so much for posting so much truth. He was selected to lead a movement, but he didn't select himself, and if he didn't do it, someone else would have. Millions played a role, although few names are mentioned. And truth be told, we're just getting started. But its still good to be able to look at signposts in the road to see how far we've come. Anywhere you stand in this world, you can see Dr. King, and he represents where we were. Now we can point to Obama, and show where we are. I have high expectations of the future, and where we will be. And don't worry, the truth is slowly coming out.

Kim said...

Do you think Dr. King knew or cared if Bayard Rustin was gay?

Mista Jaycee said...

Dr. King did know that Bayard Rustin was Gay. He was not closeted. He never had been. Representive Adam Clayton Powell Jr. tried to imply that King and Rustin were lovers, so did the coward, J. Edgar Hoover did as well.

Bayard Rustin stepped out of the limelight for the sake of the movement but did become an activist for Gay and Lesbian rights later on. He is more celebrated for that than his actual larger body of civil rights work.

Let me just say that the Bible speaks against homosexuality. So yes, I believe that Dr. King as a minister had his feelings about it as did all the clergy and spiritual people involved. The Black Church however conservative we have always been, understands that people have been homosexual since there have been people. We live with it and our family members as well.

It is only recently that we have heard the most outspoken and meanspirited attacks for and against it as the media allows the world to become smaller. What Black Church doesn't have the gay choir director? The hair dresser?

We've always dealt with the problem. With Love and sometimes not!


Mista Jaycee said...

I think that Dr. King made up in his mind to be bigger than that! I think Bayard was a Man's Man! He stood for his. He was a pacifist not cause he was afaid but because he believed in it. He suffered jail. He traveled. He sang, he played the lute. He stood for unpopular political stances. He had been communist and later a socialist. He was a Man! I think everyone respected that even if they didn't agree with everything.

Anonymous said...

word up
we need more leaders in our years.