This is a video clip of Barack Obama’s speech yesterday in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church — Martin Luther King’s church. I reflected on it here — and despite Obama’s surprising and refreshing critique of intolerance in the African-American community, I still don’t like politicking from churches.
In tribute to Martin Luther King, AP’s Deepti Hajela reminds us that King was reviled by many in his time — even by some who were trying to support his cause of racial equality. He was the person running against the grain and it was hard for some of the more risk averse to support him.
Today, Martin Luther King is an icon, and his cause has become sacrosanct — so sacrosanct sometimes that people have stopped thinking about the emerging tectonics of racial politics.
The best guide I know of to discuss race in a post-post-MLK era is journalist and author Debra Dickerson, a former fellow of the New America Foundation and Washington Post editorial writer who needs to get back to blogging. She now teaches journalism at SUNY Albany and has written The End of Blackness: Returning the Souls of Black Folks to Their Rightful Owners and An American Story. This profile captures a bit of Dickerson’s story in brief.
It’s important I think to remember Martin Luther King and to realize that race is still an issue in the country — but I can also easily imagine Debra Dickerson writing a provocative essay saying “enough already. . . we need to get beyond Martin Luther King.” (just to be clear — Dickerson has not said this but I bet the thought has crossed her mind)
And actually, getting beyond MLK is probably truer to the vision he wanted the country to achieve in the first place.
— Steve Clemons