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Monday, January 17, 2005

Martin Luther King Day

   By Emelius at 1:39 PM

      Doctor King made a great many speeches throughout his life that touched so many. Some will call him an American Gandhi and yet still in these modern days, others will still call him a nigger. I recognize that we have come a long way in these many years since his marches in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and DC, but we still have a lot more to do. We must carry King's message of equality to the current generation of children to help overcome racism and hatred due to the color of a man's skin. We must not judge a man because he is black or white, smart or uneducated, poor or rich, but rather what resides in his heart. Abolished should be the white's only country club as well as the black only beauty pageant. It was not King's vision to raise blacks to the level of creating their own racial divides, but to strive for equality. White's need to not open up NASCAR to blacks, but rather remove the condonation that it is a white's only club and see people as equal competitors. It is only when both blacks and whites stop using such terms as "I saw this black guy today" and "This white guy came up to me" that we can start to teach our children the more important things in society.

      My mother's generation had to deal with the German's and WWII. They had to live with blacks sitting at the back of the bus and white and black water fountains. They had the hardest changes to over come as King brought about change in the minds of American's. It was up to my mother's generation to then teach my generation to be tolerant of skin color. My growing up was very different from hers as I shared a learning and living environment with blacks and whites together. I reached a point in my life where she was unable to teach me any more and it became my role to teach her about racial harmony. It has now come upon my generation that we must pick up the torch and finish the job with our children. We must teach them the basics we have learned and allow them to teach us as we get older and stuck in our ways. We must finish the job.

      The sad part though is that throughout my many years of work and attempts to understand, I have seen some real shitty things. On one occasion not too long ago, a woman parked in a handicap spot. She was not disabled in the least and gave no concern for the fact that someone with a disability may need that space more than her 10 minute in and out. She was perfectly able to park just in the next aisle and walked an extra 20 steps. I raised this to her telling her that what she was doing was not only illegal as well as just wrong, and I was then promptly threatened. "What right do you have to tell me what to do 'cracker'!" Cracker? I have dated Blacks, Whites, Asians, Indians, Native Americans, and a few mutts. I have friends of all races. I have stood up against Nazi skinheads and been on so many marches I lost count. I have spoken before a crowd, signed petitions, donated, and shopped at ethnic stores. I have been beaten up for defending my fellow man of all races. Who the hell was she to call me cracker? The fact was though that despite all my work to better myself and educate and work to make others see that there is more to man than skin color, that there are some people, black and white, who find no shame, in fact they find comfort, in being racists.

      An asshole is an asshole no matter what the color of their skin. If a clerk is a jerk, then he is a jerk, not a nigger. If a guy cuts you off, he is not a cracker, just an asshole. When you tell a story at work, don't start it off with "this black/white guy", but just "this guy". Color has no bearing in the end result of the story. Catch yourself when you can and make small changes to your thoughts. Note that I have not labeled people African-Americans and Anglo's but black and white. I do not know if it is correct or not. I do know though that the PC terms are wrong. There are white people who are African. There are black people in Europe. Blacks and whites who live in America are Americans and not some hyphenated American. On this day we should try to treat it like a resolution to remove the separations and find our common grounds.

      While I have focused on the many wrongs that are still going on in our society, we must also remember the many steps that have been taken that have provided a positive atmosphere for today's races. Gone are many of the sins of man in this country. For a large number, race is no longer a hindrance to success, but rather ones own will and self determination to work hard and learn. America can be a great place for all people and we must not forget the sacrifices of those who have fallen before us, both black and white. We must not forget that it took both races, working together, to bring an end to many of the prejudices in this country and it will take a continued effort to finish.

      On this day I offer up one of Dr. King's speeches that I read early in my life that had an impact on me. It is not the "I have a dream" speech that I would hope that you have heard or read already, but a lesser distributed speech from when he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Some day in our lifetime we may hear a similar speech once again given by other great men as they try to bring equality to their children and fellow man. Maybe in Iraq, China, Russia, or even right here in America. The war is not over, just a battle. New battles are created with each generation. Will you be a general, a grunt, or a diplomat?

Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
December 10, 1964

Oslo, Norway

I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when twenty-two million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award in behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice.

I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeing to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation.

I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.

After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time -- the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.

Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.

If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama, to Oslo bears witness to this truth. This is a road over which millions of Negroes are traveling to find a new sense of dignity.

This same road has opened for all Americans a new ear of progress and hope. It has led to a new Civil Rights bill, and it will, I am convinced, be widened and lengthened into a superhighway of justice as Negro and white men in increasing numbers create alliances to overcome their common problems.

I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him.

I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.

I believe that even amid today's motor bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land.

"And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid."

I still believe that we shall overcome.

This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.

Today I come to Oslo as a trustee, inspired and with renewed dedication to humanity. I accept this prize on behalf of all men who love peace and brotherhood. I say I come as a trustee, for in the depths of my heart I am aware that this prize is much more than an honor to me personally.

Every time I take a flight I am always mindful of the man people who make a successful journey possible -- the known pilots and the unknown ground crew.

So you honor the dedicated pilots of our struggle who have sat at the controls as the freedom movement soared into orbit. You honor, once again, Chief (Albert) Luthuli of South Africa, whose struggles with and for his people, are still met with the most brutal expression of man's inhumanity to man.

You honor the ground crew without whose labor and sacrifices the jet flights to freedom could never have left the earth.

Most of these people will never make the headlines and their names will not appear in Who's Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvelous age in which we live -- men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization -- because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness' sake.

I think Alfred Nobel would know what I mean when I say that I accept this award in the spirit of a curator of some precious heirloom which he holds in trust for its true owners -- all those to whom beauty is truth and truth beauty -- and in whose eyes the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.



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