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  • Cheri Grec

    Thank you for your thought provoking article and a good read. I appreciate and agree with your take and general thoughts, however, a few points seemed to me a glaring deficiency in your piece; neglecting to mention and omitting other important relative points ( show other examples and take it further). I don't disagree necessarily, but compelled to point out a few pertinent facts and thoughts of my own as feel important considerations!

    I honestly don't find that black folks in general do "Saint" the man, but rather are grateful for a Hero so accepted by the majority of white society. I agree about teaching and keeping our heroes "real". Simply must point out how Dr. King was unique in so many ways from an American standpoint. A man with a message and Life's work to follow in every day life. A man so dedicated to non-violence and a strong follower of Jesus ( whom the vast majority of black citizens worship )! We know all men have flaws and weaknesses, most of them we often choose to overlook to stick to their most important messages. The lessons he taught were "comfortable" for the white populace being a strong a "Unify-er" never divisive, thus a great American as well as leader and Preacher! If any people in America deserve to do this it is obviously the black and native Americans ( the most persecuted on our lands, in our Country, suffering such devastating loss of loved ones and family, their native lands and also even their languages and denied if not their lives, education and their own ancestral history. The crimes against them make the rest of us "uncomfortable" to the point we accuse them of the worst things imaginable if they dare collectively or individually "remember" or even bring it up! Imagine how we would feel if our great grandparents were murdered and tortured on mass? If the tables turned, ( there but for the Grace of God go I ) were the ones denied the basic Human Right rights etc., I ponder, would the 'white race" be so forgiving? Would we choose a leader who firstly preached forgiveness, Love your brothers of all backgrounds ( staying true to Jesus teachings ) preaching equality for ALL ( not just themselves ) all men are created equal and always be non-violent? Would we so love their next generations? Would we never resent generations of wealth inherited where we denied the right to earn any money?? Told to pull yourself up by the bootstraps when you have none, or someone else was standing on them so you could not? if we told we were free, the chains were removed, but no one would hire you? it was ok for your "haters" to continue ( in many parts of the country ) the status quo of the past hundreds of years until the 1960's??? If you publicly dared to as much as resent your captor's next generation you were accused of "reverse racism" instead of resenting actual realities of your family's "owners" no matter if they were black, white, grren or blue thus not any form of "racism" at all??? If we were hated for simply existing, blamed for being taken as a slave ( without reson/cause other than a "difference in skin color, religion,race" what "racism" IS - NOT hating for no reason )??? Would we adapt, forgive, "move on" and promise to never mention a word about your families history??? When you are told every common "hero" we share ( i.e Lord Jesus even "holidays" and Santa Claus ) is absolutely not like you - NOT your "color" so always a "difference" pointed out to you making you "less worthy" - can we honestly, truly believe our "race" would be forgiving and try our best to erase our Life's experience for the sake of our Souls, unity, Peace and Love??? i personally think NOT.

    So Reverend Dr, Martin Luther King was indeed a "shared" unifying American Leader. Apparently, from what you say, only those not of his "color" feel we should point out HIS flaws on the day to honor him. I'd imagine it is is NOT the day for the very good ( to me on another day :) thought provoking article. Only I am guilty lol of remembering the good only today, in his honor!

    I personally believe, please forgive me for sounding so bias or "prejudice" ( I'm really NOT!) that the black race is the most Spiritual ( suffering can do that ), among the very most forgiving and Loving "race" in general ( from my many years of life and personal experience). thus, I have come to believe that white Americans are among the LUCKIEST people ever!! We should be on our knees in gratitude we did NOT suffer decades of acts of "revenge"!!! We may have imagined it , like the neo-nazi's and KKK and most racist among us want to believe it, but it's not reality. So, by the same token, human nature itself makes us overlook flaws of our most respected leaders , not necessarily "worship" them .

    I wonder if you were to write a similar piece about the "sainthood" of Ronald Reagan on his birthday how well received it would be. I wonder because every day ( unlike Dr King's memory/respect ) I personally hear and read people's anger/denial if ANY flaw is brought to their attention! It has become an infactuation since 2008, that apparently, has many I know far beyond respect, admiration and love for a leader and turned to sainthood and "worshiping" him. It's a new phenomenon to me, as I voted twice for and loved him. Perhaps the difference is I actually remember all of this very well. No one "sainted" him back then, when he was alive though we loved him. The closest I ever heard was own Dad Lol :) who loved him more than anyone and was chuckled at for it. Of all the leaders I've watched (followed ) during my life, Ronald Reagan is the most revered for thing he never did. Most folks who idolize him have no clue about what he actually did and did NOT do, any proper stats/numbers and very few facts. He, too, is used as a "Unify-er"; yet in this case a strictly a political one; not Society in general. That is very unfortunate. So much so, members of congress dedicating months of their time trying to re-name a body of American water , Ocean, to be dedicated and renamed after him, in his honor. Choosing that as a priority after the worst recession we have ever seen indicated to me their "spirit of party", Loyalty to party OVER the interests of Americans as the one whole ( all we the people ) a shocking head scratch er. When we need UNITY to overcome serious damages to the majority of citizens. That is an example of how all a hero's flaws are willfully overlooked; in his case, adamantly denied) and we can take respect & Love to "idolatry" and "worship" of a man. I mention Ronald Reagan for a good reason; his name is "used" politically every day; only to unite as well as untie "against" anyone not a strict, far right conservative. Which is such a pity to me. George Washington strongly indicates maintaining a strict "Independent" staus is the best way to prove your "Patriotism" and devotion to Country, truth, peace, productivity and seeking "Right" way over wrong as County's direction. To be a great American, I agree with George Washington; that it should never be about "spirit of party" which is most often used as a tool for divisiveness; whereas George Washington was all about UNITY (as was Dr King). He warned about the terrible damage party spirit can do. Often throughout history "pretended patriotism" ( God & Flag" is then perverted as tool used to convince the people of anything; true or untrue, often will continue to be the weapon to divide us, the "Flag" used as the carrot. I see it clearly today as all throughout history. He warned the "spirit of party" has been the downfall of many a great nation since the first "governments". Yet we never heed the warning of the destruction. We are a country based on unity; untied we stand ~ divide we fall basic principles. Our core values are liberty and justice for ALL; all men created equal as Dr.King taught. Ronald Reagan said " So long as one American is hungry, that is one American too many"; Apparently, many of his loudest proudest worshipers never got that memo.
    So, I feel it is human nature itself, that makes us want to "saint" a leader after they pass; not only someone to look up to, but actually picking and choosing what they wish to believe about them. It has happened since time immemorial so far as I know.

    As old as time, it is a human inclination to ignore all negatives about a great leader; and I so admire the black folks for never changing his MESSAGE to fit their "wants".

    Important to remember, and very relative, the black population went through hell yet they most admire the man who had the most spiritual message of all, a uniter, a man of faith devoted as much to Love and non-violence as equality. I believe they more deserve the right to have a hero; clearly there was no president to hold up as we hold up Ronald Reagan as a hero. Of course a few are highly admired and loved, such as Abe Lincoln and Bill Clinton. More than the white race in general terms, they are devoted to non-violence, equality and justice for all ( we the people ) as the one whole. Thus, I don't feel this is the day to single out Dr.King out in writing as the example of American idolatry or make any selective accusation in writing against one group of people as the example. Especially since he stood tall for unity and equality as much if not more than any other "leader" in American history.

    I loved the comments here, and sincerest apologies this is so long! It made me think of how complex this simple train of thought really IS!!! I'm new here :), and NO "spring chicken", seen a lot, so my perspective may be is a tad different.

    Thank you so much and have a Happy Martin Luther King Day :)

  • Mary Moore

    This is a great article and opens the mind to an important idea about worshiping someone and emulating them because both are not all-inclusive. This can be seen in the world of religion where people worship the god of their choice, but as a distant unreachable entity who is not in the midst of their lives because they really leave the worshiped in the place of worship. When the two have a working relationship, then life is effective for the worshiper because faith becomes a doer of the work.

    Dr. King is less known and demonstrated in his own ethnic group than in some others. That is the fault of the black race because they allow it. For example, children know all X-Box or Play Station games and how to manipulate them; they know every hip-hop song good or bad and can repeat them like poems; they can get away with filling their minds with anything that does not teach them daily reading such that they are very quick to admit that they do not like to read. Reading is the first step in moving forward in the world of the living because it frees children from the doom of ignorance and illiteracy that remains even if they trudge through to a high school diploma.

    We know that schools in most areas do not teach quality education that teaches people how to live in the real world with real world problems, though if you ask kids, the systems that lay out what they learn believe that the system does - especially in the realm of punishment and retribution. Just as all kinds of music can be exposed to our children in our homes, why not all kinds of serious and meaningful recordings and other media like those that can be heard of Dr. King and other mentors that children need so much, as well as do grownups.

    It is very sad that one month has been designated to be Black History Month and that is it until the next one - except in those teaching education outside of the box. Thank God for them. American children do not want to know much except when they will get a new mobile device or other type of trinket, but they have been taught to dread the thought of heavy homework and required reading. What a shame. I think we could do better than that for our youth.

  • Jody Turner

    Humanizing Dr. King is a vital approach for our times particularly as more and more people engage in give back contribution through their daily work. I appreciate the "perfection in front of process" issue revealed and how you highlighted the difficulties today in working with, around or through institutions that aren't motivated by human empathy. It is the share you gave: "... they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,' which speaks to the centuries-old argument for reparations for the descendants of the slaves that ensured America's prosperity" that is sending me to research further. This is key to understanding how our society might focus to evolve, I believe in honoring those that built our freedoms through theirs and wonder how we can develop that. I think a great deal about the (native) Indian reparation not only because my great grand parents were a part of the Trail of Tears into Oklahoma and my lineage was influenced but because it may be one key as to how we recognize and resolve issues within our multi-culture. (I am now mixed with Basque and Slavic but my grand parent and great grand parents are listed in the book The 5 Civilized Tribes and Freedmen - for more information on this visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_of_Tears, or look up your own ancestors via http://www.okhistory.org/research/dawes, or look them up by searching documents on ancestor.com or by ordering the record book http://www.amazon.com/Citizens-Freedmen-Civilized-Tribes-Territory/dp/0806317310 - the reason I pursued this personally is because I believe as we claim our heritage and the struggles ancestors endured we gain more empathy within our family structures.) I wonder how far we have come on reparation and really how far we have not come on this and what this ultimately means for our evolution as a country. I wonder what our lives would be like if we listened to the wisdom of other cultures more profoundly and am just starting a project on this that I will announce soon. Thank you for a beautifully written article, it has inspired me to pursue this further.

    • Mary Moore

      It is a very inspiring article and your article has inspired me further. Thank you.

      • Jody Turner

        Thank you Mary. I love what you have said, that we can play other types of media in our homes that extends and shares influence of black cultural accomplishments other than what is typically done, focused on and exalted. Extending the content influence is important and extending with it the recognition for this work too. Thank you.

  • Jackie Poinier

    Thank you for opening me up to this idea: Our role models are so idealized that we become incapable of following in their foot-steps. So simple, yet true.

    • Brian Hawkins

      Jackie, your summation is so true, in working with youth and volunteer programs such as Kids Korps USA and mentoring youth, this was and is a very important lesson to impart.

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    What you said about knowing Dr. King's legacy/controversy behind what he did is so important if we want to understand his movement and his work. This is a fantastic point too: "And, too many of us think that, because we made a mistake in our lives, activism doesn't belong to us as a collective." Knowing that he was primarily sponsored by his congregation really shows what can happen when you lead a small group of people. It can cause a bigger impact because there's more devotion there.