Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Dr. Boyce Watkins; MLK Memorial Dedication Ceremony, I Will Not Be Attending…

August 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Misc., News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) As the date for the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication approaches, I am finding ways to convince myself that I should be excited and inspired.  I think about the extraordinary life of the man whose speeches my mother made me recite when I was 12, and how Dr. King’s intellect was accompanied by the courage and action necessary to impact a nation.   Although I wouldn’t dare compare myself with this amazing man, I can say that Dr. King’s commitment to putting his academic and spiritual training to work for the masses serves as a perpetual model for nearly everything I do each day.

But there’s another part of me that becomes saddened and even disgusted by  our decision to celebrate Dr. King’s life in a way that would probably insult him.  Economic inequality has actually worsened over time, and the very politicians who claim to admire the life of Dr. King are quick to urinate on the ideals for which he stood.  In fact, I venture to say that if he were alive, Martin Luther King would not attend this ceremony himself.

As it stands today, black male unemployment is now over 40% in many urban areas, African Americans are being incarcerated at holocaust proportions, and inner city children are leaving school without even learning how to read.  All the while, the political predators who care nothing for our issues are more than happy to stand and smile at the dedication ceremony for a man they would ignore and ridicule if he were alive right now.  The truth is that they are glad to honor Dr. King with a memorial, as long as both he and his spirit remain in the grave.

We commemorate the life of Dr. King without having the license to do so, like the pastor who recites the word of God as he molests his children and cheats on his wife.  We don’t deserve Dr. King, and our decision to memorialize him while rejecting him is entirely reflective of the hypocrisy to which our nation has become accustomed.  One must also wonder how Dr. King might feel about a country that continues to oppress the people he claimed to represent:  We can’t profess to love a man and simultaneously destroy the people he cares about the most.

African Americans may also want to take a moment to reflect on why we are very quick to get excited about America’s commemoration of Dr. King (we unfortunately still need white American validation to feel entirely human), but remember almost nothing about the life of Malcolm X.  Most of us know that without Malcolm, there would be no Martin, but Martin had the unfortunate job of presenting a less-digestible form of black leadership.  But by accepting Dr. King’s message of integration while forgetting Malcolm’s message of economic independence, we’ve effectively committed ourselves to a more sophisticated form of slavery.  As a result, we scream about chronic unemployment without having a clue as to how to create our own jobs.  We also find that the milk and honey dream of integration has become nothing more than a nightmare of second-class citizenship.

The point here is not to say that the King Memorial is a waste of time and money.  It’s to remind all of us that we must deeply reflect on the state of the world around us, reclaiming our collective reality without pompous and empty celebration.  Substance must be valued over style, and the duel Pyrrhic victories of having a black president and a memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King must be balanced with a clear assessment of exactly what’s happening in our country.  The monument for Dr. King must not be made of granite- it must be a monument of the mind in which all of us seek to understand and IMPLEMENT the ideals for which Dr. King gave his life.

Right now, the imagery of a Martin Luther King memorial is as false as a church built in the middle of a brothel.  We must earn the right to honor Dr. King in the same way that a man must complete his course work in order to put a degree on his wall.  Dr. King gave us an assignment many decades ago, and we have failed miserably.  So, it is out of respect for Dr. Martin Luther King and his memory that I will pass on the dedication ceremony altogether.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. For more information, please visit http://BoyceWatkins.com.



9 Responses to “Dr. Boyce Watkins; MLK Memorial Dedication Ceremony, I Will Not Be Attending…”
  1. kYmberly Keeton says:

    Awesome, article! I concur in every way with this article. I truly believe that your assessment is on point. I think this article needs to be read in every history class in academia!

  2. Den says:

    You will not find the Church of Jesus Christ operating in a functional brothel. They may borrow the name church but Holy Spirit is under no obligation to rest upon them or their labors….otherwise, it’s useless.

  3. Den says:

    @ Mike, I know this is sooo off the topic but for you to say there’s nothing false about a church built IN a brothel…that’s ludicrous. Christ’s goal was to please the Father and make an atonement for our sins. Yep, you found him with all types of people in all types of places but never a brothel. His death allowed us to be called out the brothel so why would we try to go back in to build something for him there?

  4. WPM says:

    I agree. Dr. King’s legacy has been hijacked, watered down and repackaged by those who have no interest whatsoever in seeing his agenda fulfilled.

    From social and economic justice issues to war, we know what Dr. King would have said about these things, but once the politicians and their handlers got their hands on his legacy, Dr. King has been sadly redifined into a non threatening, go-along-to-get-along shadow of what he really was.

    The sad thing about all of this is that it was entirely preventable. We have allowed this to happen by resting on our laurels, by relying on other people’s philanthropy and by refusing to unite for the sake of preserving our own self-interests. The Black community has abdictated its throne for dependance and approval from white folk.

  5. TUT101 says:

    Mr. Watkins, is right on point. MLK will always be highly regaurded, as a man of great integrity,and honor. The monument is very inportant for all America. Dr King reached the consence of america, and so it is deserved. Black america needs to get it’s economic house in order, marching alone will not create one job.We need a black think tank, organization, or indivual to develop a plan, to take over some of the small busineses in our neighborhoods, we are the only ones who can solve our employment problems, all other groups take care of their own.

  6. Warren says:

    Peace and blessings Brother Watkins. Your narrative is totally heartfelt and I do overstand your position. You are correct about our not really honoring Dr. King’s life from what he articulated over and over. Integration was such a small piece of the total pie. And I agree that Malcolm’s vision has been just as under articulated and moved on as Dr. King. To me, this is the failing of the African American man. Every racial and culture grouping of people, Europeans, Asians, Indians, Jews, have a unifying system of power. We African American do not. We African do not. We have power but have no system of using it for empowerment and to solve our most challeging problems. Until we deal with building a unity consciousness which puts our issues above all others, then others will always define us. It is up to me and you.

  7. Mike says:

    “Right now, the imagery of a Martin Luther King memorial is as false as a church built in the middle of a brothel.”

    I disagree. There is nothing false about a church built in a brothel. Christ’s goal was to reach even the lowest person. The problem with King’s legacy is that he has been made a saint. People see the deity, not the man. King was smart though; he was a hands on guy. He had the hustler’s spirit, in the good way. People forget that though, they forget how much is required of a man if he is to make even a tiny incremental change. King didn’t just talk and write like people today. He stood. If you want to steal King back, teach what was really special about him: the ability to swallow the fear, ignore the bull and stay focused. People will respond to that.

  8. KAYLA says:

    We do not conveniently cherry-pick aspects of King’s legacy that we prefer. Rather, we honor his great and distinctive contributions to American history.

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