April 4th is the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis.
I lost my own father in the month of April and I can’t help but think of the King children today…yes, even that tragically hateful homophobic anti-choice niece. I know how hard it is to lose a good parent…not a perfect one, but a parent who loved you and who you know loved you…and I can’t imagine what it was like to lose that kind of person at such a young age.
Today I am remembering King for the work he was doing when he was murdered…for how his activism had matured and led him to the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, to his support of black sanitary public works employees on strike for higher wages and better treatment…and that led, ultimately, to that balcony at The Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
Toward the end of his life King spoke of a government that demonstrated hostility toward the poor…of an American society that was in need of a radical reconstruction.
I thought I understood what he was talking about…but I realize that I didn’t truly get it until I became an activist and started paying closer attention to government.
There are those in government who think that the wages of poverty are misery, hunger and want. Cynthia Davis may take heat for saying that shit, but a lot of folks in government are right there with her…silently agreeing even as they curse Davis for bringing that shit up after they’ve worked so hard to create Soylent Green-esque rhetoric that has poor people voting for rich people who hate poor people.
I’m remembering the evolution of King as activist...how he connected the dots over time and came to understand how war, oppression, poverty and the condition of workers all tied together to keep The Man in power and the masses spinning in circles pausing only to lash out at each other for fear of losing what little they let us have.
I’m remembering King as an example of what people can do…of what we all could do if we choose to do it.
Not for a perfection of theory or tactic…not even for the outcomes, but simply for the doing and the spirit behind it.
I’m remembering, in that way we who did not live through it remember, the violence that follows…that is stirred up by those who need it to manifest…the violence that has the goal of creating fear, so the people are struck frozen like deer in the headlights or lay cowering like abused beasts in the corner praying the pain will stop even as they know that it will continue.
And I know that it is with courage that activists remember King by getting our action on…keeping our eyes on that prize…walking forward toward that mountain top...
...onward, for the many slain along the way to justice and equality and for those who deserve all that and more because human beings deserve all that and more.