Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and firefighters
Michigan’s native son Mitt Romney falsely claimed that he watched his father, former Michigan governor George Romney marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Romney’s campaign had to backtrack when called to the carpet because when yesterday “Romney’s campaign said his recollections of watching his father, an ardent civil rights supporter, march with King were meant to be figurative.”
Not that I am surprised but when I think about the currency that King holds in the American psyche, I am trying to figure out if we need a new claim to truly honoring the civil rights movement…like working on civil rights!!! Lest Romney stand alone, I am specifically skeptical of people like Andrew Young and Jesse Jackson who can honestly say they have marched with MLK and have reaped (and sold unfortunately) an inordinate amount moral authority as a result.
But there will come a time when no one will be able to say, “I marched with MLK!” and dare someone to question their integrity or character. What will become of Black America then? Will the offspring of those that marched with King inherit this sacred phrase? Will we gripe about the good old days when Black folks actually worked together on issues that directly impacted the community?
Sure, we showed up for Jena and that was good, but where was the March on Washington regarding the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparities that have literally destroyed the foundations of the community? I may have not marched with King but Harry Belafonte often tells the story of the analogy of the burning house where Dr. King said to Belafonte and others in the room, “I’m beset with a grave question, the question is what do I do with the sense that we’re integrating into a burning house? I think we’re just going to become firemen.”
Firemen are prepared, alert and ready to fight even for the many days/nights when there are no fires. (read: long term purposeful campaigns and not media driven activism) Firemen look out for one another like blood brothers. Firemen put their lives on the line to help people they don’t know. As you can see, firemen do a whole lot more than lead marches and give speeches.
So if you want to be a “Black” leader of anything, don’t tell me who you marched with, tell me about your work as a firefighter.
Stay up fam,