Thursday, September 25, 2014

Death of a King- a book report

By; Tavis Smiley (The real story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Final Year) The story of his final year on earth is very sad. Here was a man who dedicated his life to improve the conditions for, not only black people but other minorities as well. He had endured many trials along the way including near death experiences, beatings, stoning, imprisonment and deprivation. As a result, together with President Lyndon Johnson he saw monumental legislation passed including the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. With these two pieces of legislation the groundwork was established to allow Negroes (as they were referred to at that time) to be allowed entrance into schools, restaurants, hotels and employment where before local laws had forced them to accept segregated facilities. It is difficult to believe that this was the country they were living in during the 60’s. That is not to say that all is well and good today. The rage demonstrated recently in Ferguson, Mo. shows that equality still eludes them regardless of legislation passed. This book starts on April 4, 1967. He delivers an impassioned address condemning the Vietnam War and in so doing incurs the wrath of L.B.J. Where before they had been partners, now they were antagonists. It doesn’t clearly state if L.B.J. turned J. Edgar Hoover loose on him but at about this time Hoover had King under constant surveillance including phone taps and later actually committing acts of sabotage to destroy King’s ability to accomplish his objectives. His staff, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, were opposed to him departing from racism to ending the war. They believed it would weaken their progress and alienate the President. They were right but King would not be persuaded. He thought of the Vietnamese as other minorities being killed as being symbolic of America’s continuing to be driven by the white culture which placed all others of color in an inferior position. This is a statement that in my opinion cannot be denied. All through his last year King is increasing left with diminished support for his non-violent crusade. Militant leaders like Jesse Jackson and Adam Clayton Powell wanted to force the issue. As a result riots broke out in a number of cities that summer resulting in death and destruction, everything King had tried to not let happen. Everywhere King went he was heckled and derided as a failure. I found that to be tragic. In my own book entitled “The Last Angry Man” in the article entitled “What If-A Look At History As It Might Have Been” dated March 2003, I wrote “Another man of peace, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. He was making great strides in closing the gap between the races with his policy of non-violence. After his death radical, hate filled black leaders filled the void, and we are as a result fearfully divided today”. He was in constant motion the entire year flying here and there to give speeches. His current goal was to have thousands of poor people of any color descend on Washington in the spring to petition Congress to alleviate the suffering of poor people. He was diverted many times to visit Memphis in support of the striking sanitation workers who were on strike for better wages and benefits which the City leaders were not willing to grant. On his final visit he was struck down by an assassin’s bullet while leaning over the balcony of his room talking to Jackson and others. His last words were “Make sure they play Precious Lord, Take My Hand in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty”. Then the shot rings out. The date was April 4, 1968. His speech the previous night was the most memorable, in my opinion. He ended by saying, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I have been to the mountaintop, and I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I am not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people, will get to the promised land! And I am so happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!” What more can be said. Jack B. Walters September 27, 2014

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