In a few days, we will be celebrating Black History Month. So the question is; what does that mean to you, us, and the world? It is an opportunity to remember the ghost of the greats who paved the way for us today. I suppose witnessing the first man of color, a black man, elected (twice) President of these United States is the most significant achievement to date.
Black people have come up from and through slavery, segregation, and to whatever they call the modern version of racism today. This is to include the brutality and wretchedness people of African descent have endured for hundreds of years; some good, but mostly despicable for a place that prides itself as the greatest nation on earth.
With that said, ?It’s been forty-eight years since the civil rights leader, icon, and dare I say martyred Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.There are streets named in his honor in every city across the country but in the cities where “The King” was murdered happens to be the last place to honor him with a street name. Dr. King gave so much to invoke change in a system that was nothing more than apartheid. Yet, nearly half a century later, the city of Memphis just a few years ago rename a one-mile stretch of Linden Avenue to Dr. M.L. King Jr. on the anniversary, April 4, of his brutal murder.
This prestigious honor has even taken place in foreign countries like Italy, which honored King by renaming streets after him in no less than ten cities. According to MLKStreet.com, as of two years ago, there are 893 places that have roadways memorializing King in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Not even in the entire state of Tennessee, much less in the city where King was murdered is there one street dedicated to his memory. Shocking isn’t it!!!
Journalist Jonathan Trilove in his book “Black America’s Main Streets” talks about how Dr. Martin Luther King streets serve as points of pride and struggle that speaks to black pride. Finding the most appropriate thoroughfare is often accompanied by the difficulty of convincing White folk that King’s impact and legacy is an inspirational one that provided a coalition of conscience all across the board. Former Memphis City Councilman Berlin Boyd, who helped lead the street-naming effort in Memphis said, “We never wanted to address losing Dr. King’s life here”. Maybe this is why any of the streets named in his honor are in the “hood”!
Commemorative movements are usually spearheaded by Blacks, and the renaming of streets has often been a controversial process that has been met with significant public opposition. The inscription of King’s legacy onto streets and the controversy that has surrounded it on numerous occasions has led to the placement of his name on minor streets or portions of roadways that are primarily populated by Blacks. Yet, King has a statue on the Washington Mall.
I wanted to share this thought because anytime danger appears, like protests or the possibility of a riot, his name and words are resurrected to quell unrest; while his name is never mention connected to anything progressive for the people, although he died for peace and helped people. As we remember Dr. King and others, let’s remember more than the few, rather the many who lived and died for equality and the black struggle.
Dr. King was more than the man who said, “I have a dream,” which is merely a way to reduces him for the purposes of “White guilt.” With there now being a monument and a national holiday in his honor; teach your children that he was one of many who fought the fight, lived and died to make our lives better in a system designed to protect the system – White Supremacy! And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…