Moment in time 40 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - repost
**originally posted at Black Entertainment USA**
Today, 40 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 2 days before my birthday I pause to reflect on what has happened and what could have.
I’ve read a lot on Dr. King in the recent days, far more than what was written during this past Black History Month. And I’m reminded of comments made by Jeff Johnson when I saw him at Ithaca College this year. I consider what Dr. King was moving forward to do at the time he was killed, and how he has been frozen in time. I look at the society of America and of African Americans.
I am a child of the Civil Rights era. I have benefited in numerous ways from the struggles and strife made by those before me. And there are numerous things today that have gone backwards in time or have wasted the efforts made. Those children beyond my generation have no idea of what has changed, and seemingly few have an appreciation that they don’t know things have changed only recently.
If Dr. King had not been killed 40 years ago, do you think there would be a BET today? Perhaps there would be, and a TV One as well – but not the only 2 and not in the manner that we see now on Black Entertainment Television I imagine. I doubt that Bob Johnson would have been the first with a national cable channel, and it would not have been built upon the back of scantily clad Black women gyrating to lyrics promoting drugs and violence.
If Dr. King had lived, he honestly would have diminished in some of his stature – as all great leaders do as they age. Yet his voice would hold more power than all the so called Black leaders of today combined and then some. He would long ago have questioned the infusion of drugs into our communities, the ridiculous face value actions of “Just say no”, and the promotion of money over education values that have integrated into our communities via music videos, video games, and other genres.
If Dr. King had lived, there would be a voice to speak with fanatical Muslim extremists. Perhaps there would never have been a 9/11, nor a war in Kuwait, nor a bombing in Lebanon. And even if these events did happen, there might have been a voice to provide an alternative just a step short of war.
If Dr. King had lived unions would be far different than they are now. There would have been a powerful voice questioning America’s involvement in Viet Nam, and questioning how the Government ran the war.
I imagine that television networks and movie studios would have rushed to integrate the big and small screens for fear of boycotts. Today there would not be worlds of imagination segregated to a virtually uniform racial make up of the world. There would not be just 2% of the entertainment industry representing every person of color combined. Spike Lee would not have to be heralded as a unique and groundbreaking director (based on his color), but just a great director among others.
I imagine that the African American middle class would not be a ghost, but a viable and growing community. I imagine that I would not have been able to get through high school with a college preparatory physics class textbook that was 3 years older than me. I imagine that a better alternative to Affirmative Action may have been found.
I would hope that had Dr. King lived, America would have come to terms with the need to apologize for slavery, something that I think still festers in the background causing separation and ill-will. I would hope that America could realize that reparations are part of that contrition and the fact that every American today benefits from the 246 years of work that built the foundations of everything that exists today. I would hope that we all would further realize that another 100+ years of segregation and prejudice were instead built upon the back of slavery with Jim Crow laws and that the cycle of judgment based on skin color needed to be broken.
I believe that as some of these things came to pass the history of the nation, the full history, would be revealed. Men like the Tuskegee Airmen and every other African American that has fought in every war America has ever had would not be new revelations to our children today. That the innovations and inventions that make life modern would be attributed to the Blacks that created them. That no person in America would wish to use a word like the N-word because it had no relevance and its meaning is too vile to repeat.
I believe that there would be no need to be distinguished by skin color when being described as an American. I would not need to be African American or Mexican American and so on. We could simply be Americans, one and all.
I believe that the Tuskegee Experiment would not have lasted until 1972, and that the Government would have been smitten for such actions. That there would not need to be a question of whether the government had made AIDS and brought it into communities of people of color because we could be sure they would never act in such a manner again.
I believe that Dr. King would never have become a politician, but other people of color would have been inspired, supported and welcomed as such. That there would be no place in America that could still herald the fact an African American ran for or was elected to a political office. That the first viable Black Presidential candidate would have ran, and possibly been elected long before the 21st century – 388 years after the first recorded slave was sold, 235 years after creating America, 142 years after abolishing slavery, 85 years after lynchings became a crime, 42 years after Jim Crow and segregation laws were declared illegal, 23 years after the first Black Miss America, 8 years after the first Black Secretary of State, 7 years after the first African American President of an Ivy League College and first Black billionaire, and 1 year after the first Black American (and youngest person) that flew around the world solo [which went virtually unreported].
There are many things I think that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could have done had he lived, and others that he would have influenced that would have benefited America. But I am left with one other thought.
Why haven’t these things happened even without him?