More than a Day Off: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021 Civil Rights today is Living History


Delivered at a meeting of what was known as The Hungry Club Forum in Atlanta, created by the Butler Street YMCA. Black leaders and white politicians would meet in secret. The speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. May 10, 1967 recognized Three major evils in the world —the evil of racism, the evil of poverty, and the evil of war.

“And we must face the hard fact that many Americans would like to have a nation which is a democracy for white Americans but simultaneously a dictatorship over black Americans. We must face the fact that we still have much to do in the area of race relations.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

US Capital under siege

The aforementioned quote could have been written today in response to events of January 6th extolling the problems we face as Republicans have aggressively tried to delegitimize millions of Black votes. These votes were from four key states, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the Republican operatives went after urban voters. If accepted by the courts, these challenges would have disenfranchised millions of black and brown voters. The documented instances of voter suppression; once clandestine, are now delivered with a wink and a nod on video streaming devices.

Regardless of losing at the Ballot Box and failing in 60 of 61 voter fraud challenges in court, President Trump continues to have an 87 % approval rating within the Republican Party with only 11% disapproving.  Their only victory was the assigned distance allowed to view the process of vote counting in one jurisdiction.

Racism was on full display as Black Lives Matters was mischaracterized in efforts to delegitimize the movement. Black voters participated in record numbers. Now, somehow there’s a “problem” with voters and voting. Claims of “massive voter fraud” by many Republican elected officials were never substantiated.

Poverty

SNAP

The COVID-19 pandemic increased the disparity between the haves and the have not’s has simply increased. As the service industry shrinks due to closings and reduced capacity, those who were once living on the margins have fallen. The sight of winding food lines are becoming commonplace as many American families struggle with food insecurity.

“You see, the gains in the first period, or the first era of struggle, were obtained from the power structure at bargain rates; it didn’t cost the nation anything to integrate lunch counters. It didn’t cost the nation anything to integrate hotels and motels. It didn’t cost the nation a penny to guarantee the right to vote. Now we are in a period where it will cost the nation billions of dollars to get rid of poverty, to get rid of slums, to make quality integrated education a reality. This is where we are now.” Dr. Martin Luther King

War on Protestors

NYS Attorney General Latitia James

The evil of war could be interpreted today as the war on people participating in urban protests. New York State Attorney General Letitia James has sued the New York City Police Department for how they treated protestors participating in civil rights themed actions during the summer of 2020. These protestors were predominantly African American, and techniques used on these protestors are coming under legal review.

January 6th tensions boiled over allegedly, demonstrators after listening to the President of the United States, stormed the US Capital Building.  Video capturing the event shocked the nation as this was no ordinary “protest”. Participants broke into the Capital, using flag poles with American flags still affixed, blue Trump campaign flags, crutches and apparently anything they could fling at the vastly understaffed Capital Police. Five People lost their lives in this so-called act of civil disobedience.

Sedition, “incitement to rebellion” if you consult a dictionary, what occurred on January 6th was far from a demonstration, this was a rebellion.  Stories of people storming the massive complex seemingly knowing their way to the most senior of elected officials, some of these offices are hidden in a Lambeth of corridors and tucked away spaces. The rebellion participants according to published reports moved through the maze of offices as if they knew the layout. Now, there are accusations that some Republican House of Representative members may have given tours; some of these people were able to provide reconnaissance enabling quick access to fleeing Senate and Congressional members and leadership. If true, the identity of those individuals will eventually be known as video surveillance information is reviewed.

Republicans and their Obsession with Black Lives Matters  

Hours after the breach Republicans again were stirring up the bottom of the aquarium. Some equating what was just witnessed at the Capital with Black Lives Matters protests, despite studies that have shown 93% of the BLM protests were peaceful.  A study, “The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) analyzed more than 7,750 Black Lives Matter demonstrations in all 50 states and Washington D.C. that took place in the wake of George Floyd’s death between May 26 and August 22. Their report states that more than 2,400 locations reported peaceful protests, while fewer than 220 reported violent demonstrations.”

Even President-Elect Joe Biden weighed in by stating “”No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” adding. “We all know that’s true. And it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. The American people saw it in plain view.”

This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not a time to relax and reflect, the “Day” is alive like a houseplant, that must be tended. As Dr. King stated in 1967, there are Three major evils in the world —the evil of racism, the evil of poverty, and the evil of war; the message is as poignant today as it was in 1967.