Martin Luther King

Stop Paying Lip Service to Dr. King’s Legacy

President Obama and Dr. King

(Photo Credit: BET)

Too often we hear people quoting lines from various speeches Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered, and they express their commitment to working to achieve and honor King’s legacy.  Unfortunately, too many people who quote Dr. King’s lines are only paying lip service to his true legacy.  Although King envisioned a day when America would have a Black President, he would be disappointed with President Obama’s economic record.  The national unemployment rate for Black is 13.4%.  In many major cities across the nation that are heavily Black, the unemployment rate is at least double what it is for Blacks nationally.  While all of the blame cannot be placed on President Obama for his horrible economic record, most of the blame does have to fall squarely on his shoulders.  This is the same President who said that he has the ability to bring people together across party lines to accomplish “change you can believe in.”

President Obama promised that he could come to Washington, D.C. and work across partisan divides, breaking political gridlock in Washington, D.C., to pass substantive legislation that would ameliorate Americans economically, socially, educationally, professionally, and personally.  When is this going to happen? President Obama has had over four years to make significant progress toward making this happen.

Although many people desired to romanticize his speech about Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, the reality is President Obama has failed miserably in providing economic uplift for Blacks and the poor—the very people Dr. King gave his life for and the very people the March on Washington supported.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time for more people to stop being mesmerized by those who employ Dr. King’s words, and start to hold them accountable for having deeds and records evincing a real commitment to fulfilling King’s dream.  King was not a man who simply talked and gave speeches around the nation—he was a man of action.  He had such a deep love for marginalized people that he found it necessary to risk his own life advocating for them.  Dr. King was not interested in self-aggrandizement.  He found it more essential to prioritize the collective good over any personal ambition.

Dr. King strongly opposed war, which is seen mostly clearly in his opposition to the Vietnam War.  King warned America of the dangers of her rising militarism.  On the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama expressed how great of an influence Dr. King had on his life.  Unfortunately, this great influence is not materializing in his actions.  President Obama is now asking Congress for authorization to use military force against Syria.  As a candidate for President in 2008, President Obama said that he would always rely on diplomacy and talk with all world leaders, including those who are not friends of the United States.  What a dramatic change: diplomacy advocate to warmonger.  Would Dr. King be proud of him on foreign policy?  No.  Would Dr. King be proud of him on the economy?  No.

Gracie Mansion, Rev. Martin Luther King press ...

Photo by Dick DeMarsico. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

For those who continue to support every action of President Obama, they’re no better than he is.  You cannot be truly committed to the legacy of Dr. King and agree with every decision of President Obama, especially those economic and foreign policy decisions diametrically opposed to King’s economic and foreign policy positions.  While this piece is not attempting to get you to discontinue your support of President Obama, it does call you to hold him accountable to aligning his actions with the words and actions of King.

Until President Obama gets legislation passed that truly advances King’s dream, he will continue to pay lip service to the dream and not be a foot soldier in the mission to help Americans fully experience the dream.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Move beyond Complaining about New State Voter Identification Laws

On this day, Revolutionary Paideia pays tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King’s contributions to the United States of America are immeasurable.  It was because of his unwillingness to remain silent in the face of egregious injustice and oppression that gave us all an opportunity to understand what America can truly be when we live up to the utopian ideals and values promulgated in the Declaration of Independence.  As I watched the annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia on television, I very much enjoyed the beautiful celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. King.  The celebration of Dr. King’s contributions to America and the world were exquisitely stated by a range of diverse individuals from America and across the globe, evincing a microcosm of the utopian multiracial democracy Dr. King envisioned.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the excellent tribute to Dr. King at Ebenezer Baptist Church, one thing that troubled me was many speakers stated their opposition to new state voter identification laws that, in their opinion, disproportionately impact the poor and minorities, but no one presented a plan to help them to overcome the barriers of the new state voter identification laws.

It’s important to highlight that Mayor Kasim Reed, mayor of Atlanta, did assert that people who have state identification cards need to make sure others who don’t have them get them.  Instead of investing so much energy in protesting new state voter identification laws, such as the one in Georgia, there needs to be greater focus on how to get everyone a state identification card.  While one can understand people having frustrations with new state voter identification laws that they contend adversely impact the poor and minorities, and function as a poll tax, protesting without offering solutions is unproductive.  For those who are concerned about the new voter identification laws being a means of suppressing votes, then use your resources to pay for people to receive state identification cards who cannot afford them.

Organizations like the National Urban League can use their resources, including their money, to pay for as many people who cannot afford to pay for a state identification card.  If you’re really concerned about people not being able to pay for a state identification card to vote, then why not pay for them to get one if you have the money?  Why not have a billionaire financer of liberal causes, George Soros, to fund efforts across the nation to get state identification cards for those who cannot afford them?  This is a time when liberal organizations have to come together to pool their resources to cancel out the impact that new state voter identification laws have on the ability of the poor and minorities to vote.

If there is real evidence of these new state voter identification laws preventing people from being able to vote, then the evidence needs to be offered.  While we want to make sure that everyone who has the right to vote can vote, we need to have concern for voter fraud as well.  Although it may sound good to say that we need to be more concerned about getting more people to vote once, and emphasize how difficult it is to get them to vote once, there is a reality that people attempt to commit fraud at the polls.  Evidence of voter fraud has been presented.  Now, it’s time for evidence to be offered that proves that new state voter identification laws suppress votes.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

White Seattle Cop Viciously Punches Black Woman in the Face

Police Brutality

For those who know me truly well, they know that I am not a person who “plays the race card” or who simply sides with racial and ethnic minorities because I am African-American. In fact, on many issues, I have been and am at odds with what many of my fellow African-Americans believe. Although I had originally planned to post an article that I have been working on for some time now (on a less serious topic), the White male cop in Seattle who viciously punched a 19 year old African-American female in the face compelled me to offer an immediate response.

I am quite unsettled by the reality that a White Seattle cop used a vicious punch to the face of a 19 year old African-American female simply because she lightly put her hands on his hands to step between the argument between him and the other 17 year old African-American female. Both of the females were jaywalking and the cop was trying to give them both tickets. While I think that the cop was well within in his right to give both of the females tickets for jaywalking, I contend that he unnecessarily employed excessive force. Neither of the African-American females posed an imminent threat to him. From my perspective, he simply did not like what the females were saying to him and did not like the fact that the 19 year old Black female lightly touched him.

The Black female never should have lightly put her hands on his hands, but this light placement of her hands on his hands did not warrant the use of excessive force. He could have removed her hands without using such great force. As a Criminal Justice minor during my undergraduate studies, I gained a firm understanding of criminal law, especially concerning policing. I have, therefore, a serious understanding about the fact that police officers have discretion (what is called “police discretion”). Police discretion does not allow a police officer to resort to an abuse of his power. An example of an abuse of police power is an unnecessary use of force. The police officer launched himself to ensure that he was punching the young lady with all of his power. All of this force for an unarmed 19 year old Black female? Really? On a street named after Martin Luther King, Jr.? Are you kidding me?

A Seattle police spokesman stated that the police officer acted within his discretion and disclosed that it’s up to an individual officer when to use excessive force. The police department has not punished the officer in any way at this moment. The department has required the officer to review training guidelines to see if improvement can be made. I’m certainly glad to see that the police department is having him to review training guidelines to see if he could improve his performance, but this is simply not all that the department needs to do to address this police officer. The department needs to fire this man for his unprofessional behavior and abuse of power. This is not the first time that Seattle police officers have unnecessarily brutalized a Black woman. They have brutalized Black women and men in the past.  A pattern has conspicuously evolved.

This evolution of police brutality causes me to think that racism was an important factor in how the White police officer handled himself. A Seattle police spokesman claims that the officer became increasingly fearful of his safety as he was handling this issue on his own and there was a crowd of people around. The officer claims that this could have been a tragedy. The spokesman is right about one thing: this was a tragedy. What is tragic about this event is an unarmed Black female was viciously punched by a White police officer. How’s that for tragedy? The only thing that I can see that motivated this cop to react in the way he did is a deep gut bucket Mississippi Jim Crowism mentality. As I watched his face and his delivery of the punch, the punish itself seemed to communicate one word for me: Nigger! Let me be clear—I never heard him say that word, but his actions communicated that he was calling her that name.

Black women are twice a minority: Black and female. Sexism played a significant role in this matter because it seemed to me that he wanted to put her in a woman’s place, a Black woman’s place (in his mind): on her back. This punch evinced a true disregard for the Black woman’s body. When looking at this punch from a gender perspective, I also see that the punched communicated this message to the woman: filthy Black whore. This could explain why he did not want her touching him—no matter how light of a touching it was.

I urge the Seattle police department to fire this White police officer, Ian Walsh, and to develop a comprehensive plan to significantly diminish the chances of an incident like this from occurring again. Moreover, I urge all people who have been unsettled and unnerved by this incident to make sure that justice is served in this case. We have to remember what justice really is. Justice is what love looks like in public.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison