The other day I had a phone conversation with a former co-worker and business associate. This friend is an African American male who pointedly is also an active member of the Republican Party. I asked him if he knew to what political party Martin Luther King Jr. belonged. He quickly responded “Why Dr. King was a Republican.” Wow, okay so if you knew me you’d know at that moment it took a lot to allow his words to stand unchallenged. And while I said nothing this friend went on emphatically confident in the accuracy of his statement and further supported it by telling me he was told as much by his life long friend who was at Dr. King’s side through the turbulent 50s and 60s and was there on that Lorraine Hotel balcony witnessing the untimely death. So no I did not argue with my friend but me being me it would not end there. Martin Luther King, Jr. a Republican, what??? How’s that work??? I would and did satisfy my suspicions and my need to verify. I am sharing my findings here, as I believe knowledge is power, and knowledge coupled with discernment is even more powerful, it’s wisdom.
Yes there was an era when the majority of African Americans, abolitionists, freedom fighters going back to the Civil War they all would naturally be drawn to the “Lincoln Republicans.” In fact my father born nearly a half-century later in 1904 was Republican and voted for Nixon over Kennedy. Dr. King’s father, MLK, Sr., was a Republican. However by the mid twentieth century my father and most marginalized people of color, people who believed in equal rights, desegregationist, people seeking to end the American Apartheid, and the descendants of Jews who had suffered the Holocaust, all shared an ideology. They wanted to chop off the ugly head of white supremacy and to best strike that fatal blow they became members of the Democratic Party. You see by the days when Dr. King was non-violently marching for civil rights, the two major American political parties’ platforms and ideologies were dramatically shifting. Most white southern Dixiecrat democrats left the Democratic Party, a party, which by the late 50s and 60s supported and worked to bring about the equality of the races. These Dixiecrats wanted no parts of integration, they were comfortable with the South’s hierarchy that gave whites all the power. They were now aligned with the Republican Party. And former African-Americans and supporters of equality no longer were at home among republicans; they were now members of the Democratic Party.
Interestingly in the midst of all this MLK, Jr. was determined to remain hostage to neither party and never endorsed candidates but looked for leaders who supported positions that helped in freeing his people, (our people) in bringing down the oppressive dogma of a Jim Crow existence. Today Lincoln would not recognize his party and could not win a position as janitor in it. Today the words “Lincoln” and “Republican” once synonyms are now antonyms.
If my friend was at all curious having been in his late teens at the time of the March on Washington, if he were perhaps more discerning he might have questioned the validity of claiming Dr. King was a republican. At least I like to hope so. My research revealed Dr. King was nonpartisan. And all the effort, by the likes of Alveda King, King’s niece, Republican pundits like Ada Fisher, the outed fraud Pastor Mark Burns, and other obstructionist on social media, all this effort to paint King a republican, to spread a myth propagated to cloud Dr. King’s image and conform him to a position that suits their particular agendas and/or purposes is an affront to Martin Luther King’s legacy. Alternatively I have discovered the voices of author/biographer David Garrow, Martin Luther King, III and Dr. King himself all three tell a very different story regarding Dr. King’s political leanings.
Oh I get trying to claim Dr. King as one of your own, after all the man was no ordinary man, he lived the spiritual calling on his life. And in the end gave his life for the least among us, the weak, the downcast, and the indigent. His footprint can be traced around the world. And given the divisive stagnate tenure of America today, we might all be better served by embracing Dr. King’s position and not laying ourselves captive to either party but rather linking to the practices and causes that align with our principles regardless of party. Seems to me among all his degrees and titles Dr. King might best be known as prophetic.
The following is some of what I found to back up my position:—————————————-
King, according to Garrow, did hold some Republicans — including Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller — in high regard. He also was harshly critical of Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War.
In 2008, King’s son Martin Luther King III said “It is disingenuous to imply that my father was a Republican. He never endorsed any presidential candidate, and there is certainly no evidence that he ever even voted for a Republican.” Garrow claimed there is little doubt King voted for Kennedy in 1960 and Johnson in 1964
This excerpt is from an interview of Dr. King at Bennett College; Date: February 11, 1958; Location: Greensboro, N.C.; Genre: Interview
During a sermon in Atlanta one month earlier (than this interview), King revealed that he had been offered money by both political parties to rally black voters for the 1956 election: (He said quote,) “They told me they had $75,000 to spend towards obtaining the Negro vote. A large part of this money would have been set aside for my own advantage. I studied their offers long and prayed over it again and again. Then I told them I couldn’t do it. I knew it would have given me an opportunity to educate my children and would have given me my first possessions in the world, but I could not sacrifice my soul in the structure of partisan politics” (“King Warns Leaders Of Partisan Politics,” Montgomery Advertiser, 14 January 1958).
Humor me a little as I am still trying to digest the idea of a man who could expound bombastically upon so divisive, so negative a message, a man who exemplifies the meaning of narcissistic, a man for whom the only God before him is apparently himself, this man has a “huge” following and is stepping into the most powerful position in the world. Now give me some leeway if you will because in my attempt to understand so grave a phenomenon, I had during the last weeks of the Trump campaign noticed something rather strange. And I confess it could be just me, but did anyone notice how all the Trump spokespersons and strategists put out in front during his campaign seemed a bit unnatural almost robotic and expression-less? It was like we were in some weird sci-fi movie where the Trump advocates on all the networks had been programmed so tight that their speech tones, rates and patterns were spewed out in an irritatingly mechanical fashion. Their comments were always coupled with identical smirk-like expressions of superiority. They looked over-rehearsed and reminiscent of a boring slick, yet ironically successful, car salesman. And check out their glassed over eyes suggesting they had been served a hypnotic cool-aid of a sort. A cool-aid handed out for free at all the Trump rallies, explaining the chants of “lock her up.” In defense of my granted biased proposition, ladies and gentlemen I give you Rudy Guiliani, Kellyann Conway, Steven Cortes, Katrina Pierseon and Omarosa Manigault. And further please note in many a great sci-fi movie there is the added element of. Yes I said it, “horror.” Stay with me here and consider what it would mean for any of these robots led by Trump to actually be a part of running our country. Can you imagine a more horrific circumstance? What’s up with these Trump surrogates, could it be the Russians are snatching bodies?? Hmmm impossible you say. . . . but quoting from Sherlock Holmes “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” Oh I know what you’re thinking I need to get a life!
I love film, and am naturally drawn to romance, action, sci-fi and there is always time for the “who done it” mystery. Now I also love musicals, but for me they are best seen in their original genre, live on stage. So how does the movie “Taxi Driver” fit into this repartee? Answer, it does not. This movie is not supposed to work for me, even given all the rave reviews. I am uncomfortable with looking or delving into the ugly places and spaces of our society. While harder to do in the year 2016, I continue to never ever take away my rose color glasses, at least not too quickly.
But more seriously after the two hours or so time spent in the mind of Travis Bickle, the protagonist, a crazy man, I came away from this movie with a sense of reverence for the art form that is film. The visually laid out symbolism explaining the environment and mind of the lead character held a deeper impact for me then dialogue alone was able to reveal. And although I am highly adverse to films subjugated to dark violence and racism I did get caught up in the vehicle, the conduit use of film to tell this story is art at its’ finest.
The film takes on complexly dark topics including loneliness, violence, depression, prostitution, pornography to a lesser extent, and racism.
One key characteristic of Travis [Robert Di Nero] was his deep racist attitude toward black people. While he never verbally expressed his aversion to the resident population of Harlem back in the late ‘60s, the character’s facial expression and body tensions projected a deadly hatred for blacks, my people. And given that “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (whose leading characters are NYC and Holly Golightly) is one of my all time favorite movies, how did I come to appreciate Travis Bickle living in the same city, yet his space was the antithesis of Ms. Golightly’s? This movie was not suppose to work for me. But having seen it just this week from beginning to end, it did work. And maybe it did not work back when because I was this 1960’s young naively vulnerable woman. However I’m older now and in today’s world of cable TV, shock for shock value reality TV, cellphones, video in real-time of dehumanization and murder of black men, today I am it seems able to watch this movie I once called abhorrent and to understand what it was attempting.
It has taken decades to finally sit through the movie and alas I understand and agree this movie was then and remains to this day a masterpiece of film. This movie took me out of my comfort zone and kept me suspended there long after it ended, trying to understand the captivation. Turns out this movie is cinematic genius, who knew.
Does anyone remember so contentious a circus in simply picking your cabinet or seen so much conflict of interests with one’s businesses? And who has ever chosen the likes of strategist and white supremacist tolerator Steve Bannon? Really? Is Rice Privis be a balance to Bannon, no! And what’s this Puttin connection? Who puts not one but three of your children in leadership roles of both your cabinet and your businesses, who does this?? Who has property in DC where you are both the lessee and lessor?? And there is the promise of privatizing Medicare and repealing ACA leaving over 20M people with no healthcare. And in addition to all the allegations of harassment charges, now after the fact Megan Kelly claims the President Elect threatened her back when?!?! What happened to the balance of power? Super conservative republicans are running all three branches of government, how’s that work? Is that even constitutional? Autocracy has replaced our democracy. This has been a nauseating couple of weeks, I wish I could bury my head in the sand right about now, but this stuff is important. The only good news? . . . stocks are up!
So the last couple of days I have been attempting to watch the new Roots series on the History channel. Honestly I have found this all but impossible. I watch a bit and I have to turn away. I know the story, I know our history but this depiction brings the ugly past full circle. Because having lived all these years, I am now living this modern day racism. In the 60’s and 70’s I saw too many intelligent black males of my generation witness lynchings, watch police brutality in the streets, see the MLK, Jr. murder, live and televised. And yet black men continued to fight for this country in wars in foreign lands, some to die, others wounded they came home and still were treated as second-class citizens, to be inprisioned for crimes and sentenced to years far beyond what was justified and beyond the sentence a white man committing the same crime would receive. I have watched black women with PhD’s working as secretaries because of their color, degreed black men driving taxi cabs, and so much more. We endured, and we endure daily subtle indignations. And now we get to watch this small-minded man called Trump, the “would be President” applauded by far too Americans. We listen to the cadence of many who deny and lie about our country’s achievements under the leadership of President Obama because he is black. Yes racism is alive and well. Difficult, but I watched the original Roots as a young woman, but this time around there is something new in my spirit, something welling up inside of me, as I attempt to watch this new Kunta Kinte. Perhaps it is that steady beat, the continuum of the injustice; it is tearing at my very soul and I want to shout out, I want to scream “Let my people go!!”
Republicans have this all wrong. President Obama is naturally poised, self-assured, articulate, intelligent with a dash of cool. Republicans think because Barak Obama became the POTUS, that the position created in him this bigger than life royal persona. They do not get it. I would suggest to them these attributes are innate characteristics Obama possessed even as a struggling community organizer with large student-loan debt looming over his head. The presidency did not make the man. This man simply took his attributes to the Oval Office with him. Now chew on that Cruz, Trump, Rubio and just try to step into those shoes with the dignity and grace President Obama brought to the White House. I am doubting you three can. My sense of things is that this President has always and is still just Being Barak.
And in Being Barak and POTUS he, among other things, was influential in bringing down Osama bin Laden, in saving our failing auto industry, and adding 13.7 million new jobs to a struggling economy, he ushered in the 17.6 million people who now have health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, he has made the United States the leader on championing climate change regulations , and can take responsibility for reopening the Cuban Embassy, and then there is the United States’ role along with six other countries in entering into an agreement on the landmark nuclear deal with Iran. History will reflect his was an extraordinary presidency; a presidency for the ages that will stand the test of time. It is unfortunate our republican leaders intend not to build on what is a sure and certain turn around from the gloomy situation that was 2008. But instead republicans and in particular their candidates for president seek to destroy all the Obama accomplishments not for the good of the country, but rather to annihilate the accomplishments of an African-American President. Republicans seek to bolster old conservative ideals that only serve the wealthy and their own personal and oft as not narcissistic endeavors.
And in time there will be 2017, and it will usher in a day when President Obama no longer occupies the White House. What does that mean? It means a President Obama freed up to go about Being Barak. As explained in the previous paragraph he as the President of these United States accomplished much in spite of the opposition. In Office, the change we could believe in was handicapped. Outside of the White House that change we sought when we voted him President will be more fully revealed, will be lived out, it will not be stymied by a Senator and Speaker of the House making it the republicans primary purpose to make President Obama a one-term president. Being Barak , private citizen, means not having one’s plans reigned in by jealous zealots. Being Barak means taking the community, the vulnerable along with him. In 2017 it will mean having connections he could only dream of as a community organizer. As the former most powerful man in the world his prospects are endless. And I predict it will be the dawning of a better day for all.
“One day you will learn to give and receive love like an open window . . . and it will feel like summer everyday” author unknown
Don’t get this twisted, she ain’t mad at him, not even one little bit. Pretty fed up with herself though. It’s been hard for her to come to terms with this. She’s been trying to get outside of those trees and see that forest. But somehow she just keeps coming back to the recognition that what they have is no way happiness. Yes they’ve handled arguments a little better lately and maybe that’s as much as one should expect. The only problem is this woman, she still believes in love. She has this innate sense of what love is and is not. She wants it and all that goes with it. She thinks perhaps he may want love too, but not from or with her.
Unfortunately she is learning her idea of a good life is far different than his. And when he is with her? Well it feels like he is doing her one big favor to even show up.
So her wide lens view of that forest she calls her relationship, it tells her it is time to make her exit with some semblance of her dignity still intact.
“Sometimes you have to be willing to let go of something old to grab onto something new. You have to be willing to let a part of you die . . . . in order for another part of you to be born.” —-Lisa Nichols
She really does try to listen to what people are actual saying, and pay attention to the words they choose. However, more often she only hears their tone and the emotion in the voices. And often it is enough. So she is probably not considered a very good listener, least ways not of people. She supposes that’s because she is contrarily an intent listener of the morning. Yes, that is what she said, the morning. She listens to those quiet sounds that come with an awakening day. Sounds of a sun rising out of an eastern sky, and sounds of the dew that softly covers the leaves of the ficus tree and those potted plants set out on her back deck. What a comforting miraculous conversation is had as the dew greets every blade of grass, every flower petal and earthly surface as far as she can see. The dew has a voice that harmonizes with the flutter of a humming bird as it hovers over a pink full flowering hibiscus. And there are the sounds of morning light’s intrusion as it overtakes the darkness that was night. The sun has a declaratory trumpeting sound, duty-filled to ever intently transform the southern sky from velvets of black to shades of purple then orange and yellow signaling daybreak. Well maybe you can’t hear those sounds, but she does, she always has. Even smells have voice and speak softly to her spirit, they tell her that big old magnolia around the bend is in blossom, and that the neighbor has spread the fertilizer. Some smells are subtle, but their voices are ever clear and she does not miss the messages. Those morning sounds are all in harmony and make profound cohesive statements of continuity, of birth, of death, of promise and compromise. Those statements direct her days and give deepest meaning to her life.
A listener of the morning has an innate ability to be patient and still, an ability to connect. She hears and acknowledges the morning, and more the morning hears and acknowledges her.