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Of Crazy Uncles and Kings

recorded 3/27//08

1) 3:09 Radio Essay - short - MP3

2) 4:33 Radio Essay - long - MP3

Of Crazy Uncles and Kings

[col. writ. 3/25/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

    It has been 40 years - a lifetime - since Martin Luther King, Jr. was felled in Memphis, Tennessee.

    His life of committed activism, and his martyrdom, has left an indelible mark upon the world.

    There were, indeed, echoes of him, in Black and some white churches this past Easter, but also in what the corporate media has called "incendiary" speeches of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

    Rev. Wright's Black Liberation Theology runs like a chain from the life and practice of two prominent Black religious leaders of the 20th century, which left their imprint upon the soul and psyche of Rev. Wright (Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, and Min. Malcolm X).  Although condemned as "divisive", "incendiary" and "outrageous" by the corporate and right wing press, I found nothing of the sort to my ears.  It actually reminded me of my youth, when, working at a white radio station, my boss called me into his office, and quietly asked me about the Rev. Leon Sullivan, one of the most prominent religious and business leaders in the country.  I can't remember his question, but the gist of it was that he, and several other radio executives met with the man, and came away unimpressed.  It taught me that people are deeply influenced by style, and some styles do not cross cultures well.  I tried to communicate to him that Rev. Sullivan was a virtual lion in the community (indeed, his nickname was 'the lion of Zion' - for the name off his church, Zion Baptist Church)

    Different cultures have different styles of speech, and communication.

    I thought of this when the media - generated Wright controversy arose, when, initially Sen. Barack Obama (D.ILL.) suggested Wright was kinda like the crazy uncle that people invite to Thanksgiving, but really don't take too seriously.

    The life and example of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also came to mind. And while King has been almost deified by most Americans, like most such men, their words are actually rarely read, and those who truly knew them are little heeded.

    Theologist and historian, Dr. Vincent Harding (a close confidant of King), has written about King's last year of life, when he turned towards the anti-war and anti-poverty movements, and by so doing, earned the enmity of the rich and powerful.  None other than the Washington Post condemned King when he criticized the Vietnam war.  In an editorial, they wrote, "He has diminished his usefulness to his cause, to his country, and to his people."

    Dr. Harding wrote that King read a challenging article in Ramparts magazine, called "The Children of Vietnam."  Harding writes:

                    He told his staff that "after reading that article, I said to myself, 'Never again will I be silent on an issue that is destroying the soul of our nation and destroying thousands and thousands of little children in Vietnam.'" For all who would hear his voice, he was saying, "I can no longer be cautious about this matter.  I feel so deeply in my heart that we are so wrong in this country and the time has come for a real prophecy, and I'm willing to go that road."

                    [Harding, V., Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero (Maryknoll, N. Y.: Orbis Books, 1996), pp.100-01.]

    Deserted by fair-weather friends, lambasted by the 'liberal' [white] press, bereft of donations that fueled the movement, the sensitive preacher was hurt, but he did not give up.  As Harding wrote, he continued to resist what we now call imperialism:

                    (Who knew that night, April 4, that he had precisely one more year to live, that the bullet was closing in?) For King saw the larger context. He had already declared in other places that his "beloved country" was "engaged in a war that seeks to turn the clock of history back and perpetuate white colonialism." Underlying this bitterness, he said, was America's refusal to recognize that "the evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism." [p.101]

    Forty years ago, King was assassinated for standing against white supremacy, and the U.S. government's thirst for violence and conquest in Vietnam.

    Today, the corporate media does the job that military and the spy agencies once did - for the same masters.

    Yesterday, it was Martin L. King.  Today, it's Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright.

--(c) '08 maj

 

[Mr. Jamal's recent book features a chapter on the
remarkable women who helped build and defend
the Black Panther Party: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.]
===============================


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[Check out Mumia's latest: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.] 

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

For additional information and to order Mumia's new book We Want Freedom,

visit: southendpress.org

Check out Mumia's NEW book:
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com