Since the Black Lives Matter Movement started it has been labeled as being too radical, using offensive language and being racist. Critics claim that the Civil Rights Movement, specifically Martin Luther King Jr., would not even support the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Has our white culture attempted to whiten MLK’s legacy so much that many no longer consider King controversial?
Lets be clear, if you are white and do not support the Black Lives Matter Movement today, then the overwhelming odds are that no matter if you would have lived in the North or South in the 50s and 60s you would not have supported the Civil Rights Movement then.
The same criticisms of Black Lives Matter today were issued about King and the countless others involved in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950’s and 1960’s. King was blamed for riots, for hatred between the races, and for being racist against white people.
Many of us know about the actions the Civil Rights Movement had in the South such as sit-ins, marches, boycotts, and Freedom Rides. These events only had limited support from white people and even worse is that the majority of white Americans actually believed actions such as these were hurting the chances of racial integration.
In 1966 King came to Chicago to try to end poverty and “…to help eradicate a viscous system which seeks to further colonize thousands of negroes within a slum environment.” After spending time in Chicago and leading actions around the city King said, “I’ve been in many demonstrations all across the south, but I can say that I have never seen – even in Mississippi and Alabama – mobs as hostile and as hate-filled as I’ve seen here in Chicago.”
Based on King’s own observations, white people in the North were just as racist as white people in the South during this time period. Except, because the majority of the movement happened in the South the north was able to hide it’s racism.
Not only was King criticized by regular white Americans he was also criticized by white religious leaders for his actions being “unwise and untimely”. As a reverend this criticism lead him to write his eloquent response, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. In the letter he includes “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens’ Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice […] who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.’”
So to be clear, MLK said, it was not the KKK who was the greatest roadblock to freedom, it was the typical white American.
Even after King was murdered, just getting MLK Day to be a national holiday was a struggle for those involved. It took 9 years for DC politicians to approve it. Once it was approved it still took an additional 17 years to get all 50 states to celebrate the day.
Further proof of how radical King was emerged when his family took the U.S. Government to trial because of evidence they believed that they had obtained that showed that King was not killed by James Earl Ray, but instead he was killed by the U.S. Government.
During nearly the entire Civil Rights Movement the U.S. Government, specifically the FBI, monitored, harassed, murdered, and/or tried to stop the movement by any means necessary. The FBI went so far with King to stop the Movement specifically that they threatened they would make public his extra marital affairs and also sent him letters suggesting he commit suicide.
I get it, we white people do not want to be considered racist. But we have come to the point where we took a radical figure like King, ignored nearly every radical speech, action, and statement made by him and now just use him to try to quiet Black people anytime that they are upset. White people will post quotes from King on MLK day, but are only quoting the King that they want him to be not the radical King that he was. We ignore his quotes against the military, against moderate whites, and his promotion of black pride.
Black Lives Matter is inclusive like King, is pro-Black like King, and is controversial like King…
So before another person like the Atlanta Mayor says MLK would not have shut down a highway, which we know he did, or someone like Bill O’Reilly says that, “Dr. King would not participate in a Black Lives Matter protest”. King not only would have participated, but it is in part because of his leadership that Black Lives Matter operates.
So anytime anyone says King was not a radical or says King would not support Black Lives Matter ask for proof and then ask for which King they are talking about.
The real King or the lightened un-radicalized King that they can put up on their wall by their white Jesus.
View this piece on the Huffington Post by clicking here.