Martin Luther King Jr Day: Analyzing “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”

KuyaManzano By KuyaManzano, 24th Jan 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>Politics

When civil rights and equality for all becomes an issue, the press would often refer to how Martin Luther King Jr is - a freedom fighter, an honorable man, a rabble rouser and a dynamic source of inspiration for freedom-loving people everywhere. But really, how many among his so-called admirers even put the effort to read or listen to any of his speeches?

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Thankfully those who really looked up to King as an inspiration transcribed and saved his speeches. One of the most memorable speeches he ever delivered was “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” . Some parts will be quoted since they tackle issues that resonate even today.

This speech started out sharing his dreams which made further sense to tagline often attributed to him (“I have a dream”). Despite the beauty and magnificence of the possibility of living at the time of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt to the time when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to the Great Depression itself, King still preferred to live in the time that he lived in.

“Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty and say, ‘If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy’.

Now that’s a strange statement to make because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion all around. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

If King considered his era as turbulent, it would be sad to note how he’s been dead and all and there are still black men in America getting murdered for racial profiling. People still get judged for the color of their skin, not on whether they did something wrong or not.

“The masses of people are rising up. And whenever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee, the cry is always the same: ‘We want to be free’.”

Black people want to be free. Today, they still want to be free despite the claims that slavery is no longer existing. New York City got mentioned. Decades later, New York City Police District got serious heat for what they allegedly did to Eric Garner, giving birth to the “I Can’t Breathe” activist meme. That maybe one of the memes still circulating that wasn’t intended for humor but awareness. Ferguson may not have been mentioned but cries for justices never died down even if the press is not covering it as often anymore. Million Hoodies Movement for Justice refused to shut up on the matter. So far, it’s alternative media outlets like RT America that allowed them to speak about protests to be launched on MLK Day itself as opposed to the rest or mainstream media talking about how schoolchildren are made to believe that King’s dream of equality has finally been achieved.

In short, issues regarding inequality still prevailed. Sure, there is more diversity in communities today but not everyone gets to enjoy that. And as early as King’s time, media coverage still leans towards certain biases in terms of reporting incidents involving black communities.

“The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now we’ve got to keep attention of that. That’s always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that 1,300 workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them.”

Sure do, in the speech, God is often referenced as King was a pastor. But focusing on how the blacks get portrayed in media when you expect journalists to be fair in reporting issues of national concern, they end contributing to feeding the public perception that causes further stereotyping. The fact that some so-called human beings can manage to do this to other people because they don’t view them human enough.

The current president of the United States is black, or half-black, if you insist. But the road towards racial harmony and social equality is a path that is far from done. The moment media stops conditioning everyone into feeling good about a special holiday and tells them how much work still needs to be done decades after the assassination, then perhaps everyone stop viewing this as a way to tell people how they have done a good job because we have started looking beyond it as a non-working holiday.


Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King Jr

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Actor, singer, director, producer, writer and businessman.

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author avatar SaigonDeManila
24th Jan 2015 (#)

It's easy to spot brilliance on this "lesser" speech after the monumental "I HAVE A DREAM". Thank you for sharing KuyaManzano!

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