America is struggling in the aftermath of police killings of black men in Ferguson, New York City, Cleveland, Florida, and more…and more. Today Time published an essay by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar entitled “Why I Have Mixed Feelings About MLK Day.” Few celebrities utilize their celebrity status for the well-being of society. Mr. Abdul-Jabbar does.
I reprint the beginning of it below. I encourage you to click through and read the whole thing.
[Full disclosure: I have no interest in the NBA, but I have been a fan of this intelligent and articulate man for years. In fact, I included “Kareem” in Cheesie Mack Is Sort of Freaked Out as the middle name of one of Cheesie’s friends, Glenn Philips…and he, according to Cheesie, is the smartest kid in school.]
Abdul-Jabbar’s essay begins:
I have mixed emotions about Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For me, it’s a time of hopeful celebration — but also of cautionary vigilance. I celebrate an extraordinary man of courage and conviction and his remarkable achievements and hope that I can behave in a manner that honors his sacrifices. And while Dr. King still has his delusional detractors, who have a dream of dismissing his impact on history, it’s not them I worry about.Continue reading “MLK Day and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar”→
Just a few days ago, Jeh C. Johnson, general counsel for the Department of Defense, gave a speech at the Pentagon in recognition of Martin Luther King Day. Toward the end of his talk, Johnson mused about what the non-violent preacher, a man who railed ceaselessly against the Vietnam War, would feel about our ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were he alive today.
It is hard to imagine a more wrong-headed analysis of Rev. King’s philosophy of non-violence. After correctly noting King’s unwavering stand against the Vietnam War, Johnson loses his way. Quoting from the “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech given the day before King was assassinated, Johnson mistakenly likens King’s reference to the compassionate aid of the Good Samaritan to the Shock and Awe of a mighty armed force. He equates giving aid to waging war.
On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech in Washington, DC, to an immense crowd that filled the Capitol Mall. Revered and reviled in his time, King stood as the standard bearer in the fight for civil rights.
Clarence Jones, King confidante and one of those who helped draft the scripted part of the speech, recalled on CNN today that halfway through the speech, King turned his prepared speech face down and began to dream aloud and extemporaneously. Jones recalled how the uplifting oratory of that dream prompted one of those near to King to whisper that these people [on the Mall] “are going to go to church now.”
Almost a half-century later, on Martin Luther King Day, one day before Barack Obama will be sworn in as our president, it is time to “go to church” again, to watch and listen to King’s momentous…and now prophetic…speech.