New Generation Of Kings: A Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute

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“When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, Black men and White men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

These were the last lines of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech from 1963. I know we have read this or at least heard it before. I know we understand it. The recent 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s passing has brought a question to mind: Has Dr. King’s impact really gone as far as we think?

Dr. King was a powerful, insightful leader of our parent’s and grandparent’s generation. Now we look at MLK Day as just another day out of school and not a day of honor. We’ve seen his marches and have begun to march ourselves. But I just highly doubt Dr. King would approve of the current state of our country. MLK was a man of integration and success through unity. We, however, are a generation that wants the Black lives matters to be front and center in the public’s eye. We want people to acknowledge what’s happening to Black lives without the comparison of other lives. We want “#BlackLivesMatter” and not “#AllLivesMatter.” I’ll keep my preferences to myself, but chances are that our friendly MLK would be an #AllLivesMatter supporter. Maybe.

Please don’t get me wrong, MLK paved a great way for the current generation and the ones to come. He spoke his speeches. He marched his marches. He is a great representation for Black men and women. He let it be known that you too can change the world. Without him, I doubt Barack Obama would have even been president. So yes, nods to him. However, we know he wasn’t the only one to contribute and some of his fellow activist believe the way we do now. Not to be cliché, but let’s bring up Malcolm X.

I only speak of Malcolm X because he was essentially the opposite of MLK, but they had the same goal to make life better for Black people. Malcolm had a traumatic childhood. His father was killed during the Great Depression and his mother went insane, sending him to foster homes. MLK was raised by both parents and always could depend on his father. MLK and Malcolm only met each other once, mainly because MLK is reported to have refused invites for talks from Malcolm. Not seeking to change your perspective, but MLK only accepted his own Black brother after Malcolm denounced the Nation of Islam. MLK supposedly clashed with Malcolm because he had a violent message, but it quite frankly could’ve been about religious differences. And let’s be real, is religious differences worth weakening the strength of an entire movement?

Is the doubt of King’s impact so outrageous? Can we really judge him for wanting to protect his movement? These are just things to think about. To me, his impact is strong, but we are still only a product of his movement; we have become our own movement. We’ve created our own names to go into the history books.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I thank you. I thank you for the sacrifices you made. For the risk you took. For the life you gave for us to have our lives. I can only hope that you look down on us Black brothers and sisters and smile. We are protesting for us. We are protesting for the next generation. We are protesting so all the things you have done are not in vain. We are not trying to divide the people, we just want the people to see us as you did. We are you. We are all the new Martin Luther King Jr.

 

By Jacob Bonds, Sophomore, Malcolm X

Twitter/IG: @jaluszn

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