Archive for the ‘Martin Luther King’ Category

Happy MLK Day

January 17, 2011

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there are people out there much better prepared than I am to speak of politics and race, so I generally don’t go down that road here (I’m much more inclined to write about beer after all). Yet, there’s no doubt in my mind that MLK day remains an incredibly relevant and important day if for no other reason than this country seems to need a serious dose of historical literacy. This is true not just specifically about race, but about any of the hot-button racial, ethnic, religious, political rhetoric that divides “us” and “them.” (for instance, anyone who thinks the current debates about immigration are anything new, try seeing what founding father Benjamin Franklin had to say about the dangers of Germans in Pennsylvania and how they would affect “us”, among any other fears of the “other” that have plagued this country through its history–always interesting to hear these debates in the midst of a country of immigrants defined by its diversity). If at least for one day, MLK day at least allows us to pay some attention to this history–yes, it’s only one day and in the end doesn’t really change anyone’s attitude (a holiday that ultimately preaches to the choir) but it’s something.

All the issues at play are beyond the scope of this blog. Yet, I’ll add just a few items to the day’s discussions:

First, a quote. Far too many in the King legacy to give justice to his eloquent and moving rhetoric, so I choose one in a seemingly random fashion:

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity.”

Second, a poem. Here, too, the pool to draw from is immense. So I simply choose one of my favorites, a poem by Audre Lorde:

Coal

I
is the total black, being spoken
from the earth’s inside.
There are many kinds of open
how a diamond comes into a knot of flame
how sound comes into a words, coloured
by who pays what for speaking.
Some words are open like a diamond
on glass windows
singing out within the crash of sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
in a perforated book – buy and sign and tear apart –
and come whatever will all chances
the stub remains
an ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
breeding like adders. Others know sun
seeking like gypsies over my tongue
to explode through my lips
like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Some words
bedevil me
Love is a word, another kind of open.
As the diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am Black because I come from the earth’s inside
Now take my word for jewel in the open light.

And, finally, a song. Here, too, the pool is vast. Back when the Street Parade radio show was still running (I want to believe the radio show will return, but not for awhile) I used to dedicate several shows running to music relevant to the holiday. Some great stuff. Hard to choose, but this year’s choice for your listening pleasure is a Solomon Burke tune. Enjoy:

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