Dr. Martin Luther King's Challenge to President Obama

One of my amazing sisters sent me the following clip. She knows me well because I was drawn right into the powerful and passionate words of a man I admire greatly, Dr. Cornell West. In the clip he talks about why it angers him that President Obama had plans to (and since has) swear his presidential oath at his inauguration on the Bible of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which was this past Monday (and should be a holiday North of the border as well to honour this great man). Take a look.

The clip speaks for itself but I will just write out some of the key points for further clarification.

Martin Luther King presents a challenge to power everywhere, says Cornell West, and that is always going to be a problem for the President of the United States. Dr. West is concerned that swearing in on Martin's Bible sends a message like, "It's all good now! Look! There's a Black president! Martin Luther King would be so pleased!"

But when you try to steal Martin Luther King's blessing, when you attempt to co-opt his powerful voice and message as an endorsement of your presidency, you better allow the messages that were core to whom Dr. King was that continue to CHALLENGE the United States (and Canada) to rise up and don't try to ignore or sterilize them. The fact is, President Obama, as the leader of the most powerful country on the planet, participates in and is the leader of activities and a system that Martin Luther King Jr. did and would very much oppose. Dr. West outlines three main areas.

1. Jim Crow laws of old, that weren't just segregation but allowed for the systemic abuse of people of colour. The new Jim Crow argues Dr. West can be seen, for one, in the current justice system which protects the corrupt wealthy but fills prisons with those of 'lower standing'.

2. Martin's absolute opposition to militarism that impacted and effected innocents in war, like carpet-bombing in Vietnam. He would be equally opposed to the drones being dropped in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. These are war crimes! Dr. West rightly cries out, "My voice hollers out! So don't tame it with your hand on his Bible! Allow his prophetic voice to be heard!" This is the essence of the whole video! Don't diminish the message of Martin Luther King by not allowing the tension to rise up of those thing which your government is supporting which he would stand against, as he stood up to the abuse of power when he was alive.

3. Poverty of all kinds, across the planet! "Don't hide and conceal his challenge! Don't tame his prophetic fire!" You can't pretend Martin Luther King Jr. would be happy today with the state of poverty globally or locally.

Dr. King didn't endorse Presidents, he challenged them! Let us hope President Obama can hear the challenge rising up!! Don't start to confuse President Obama with Martin Luther King Jr., their voice is not the same voice, their message is not the

Dr. West is such a powerful orator and I stand with him when he says, "We just loving the tradition that produced Martin Luther King Jr.! And we are not going to allow it to be in any way sanitized, deodorized and sterilized! We want the subversive power to be heard!"

This is RIGHT ON TRUE REBEL STUFF! The prophetic voice that presents a challenge to those in power. REMEMBER THE POOR! REMEMBER EQUALITY! REMEMBER NON-VIOLENCE! REMEMBER TRUE JUSTICE! Having a Black President does not necessarily bring us any closer to the Dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. than we were 50 years ago. The heart of his message will not be stolen and co-opted by those in power! The prophetic voice will rise up among others like Dr. Cornell West, and it must rise up among many more of us to make sure those in power hear the voice of the dreamers saying, "There is a different way! There is a new way! And at the heart of that new way is LOVE!"

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