During the birthday season of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there are
several questions which are, inevitably, put before me.
I. If Dr. King were alive what issues would he address today? My answer;
internationally – war and peace. Just as he opposed the war in
Vietnam, he would be against the war in Iraq. He would call for a moratorium
on “tough talk” or “brinkmanship.” He would
challenge the nations of the world to defuse the tension and silence
the war drums. Particularly, would he focus on US leaders. He would
remind them to remember the famous words of Winston Churchill, former
Prime Minister of Britain, “Jaw jaw is better than war war.”
And the wisdom of John F. Kennedy, “We will not fear to negotiate,
but we will not negotiate through fear.”
In the Israeli/Palestinian conflict he would urge an inclusive peace
plan that would embrace all the Palestinian people and Israelis, which
plan would provide for independent states within secure boarders. He
would be particularly distressed by the bloody riots in Kenya, East
Africa and the crises in Darfur, Sudan, where 200 to 400,000 people
have been killed and 21⁄2 million people displaced. He would have
an idea for a fair and peaceful settlement in those countries. He would
urge nations to, “Beat their swords into plowshares and their
spears into pruning hooks and study war no more,” to develop a
global strategy to end world poverty, hunger, disease and homelessness.
In the USA, he would be irate and sadden by the slow progress in New
Orleans; the inability to solve the immigration problem. Surely, he
would offer ideas on how to mercifully and fairly resolve the issues.
The criminal justice system would distress him. The breaking of the
law by the lawmakers, police abuse of power and the unfair application
of justice as is the case with the Jena 6 and the Rockefeller laws.
Certainly, he would be concerned about the economic crises. The steadily
expanding gap between the rich and the poor, the unemployment, especially
would he be concerned about mortgage foreclosures, predatory lending
and along with Rev. Jesse Jackson and others, he would be offering a
plan for the cessation of sub-prime lending and foreclosures on home
mortgages, interest rate reduction, debt restructuring and a bailout
plan for lenders and borrowers.
He would be troubled by the spiraling prison population and the privatization
of prisons as a solution, thus creating a Prison Industrial Complex,
which is profit driven requiring incarceration. He would recognize the
progress African American have made in some areas but bemoan the rate
of progress that has been achieved since the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
He would be pleased that there is an African American and a woman who
are front runners in the Democratic Party Primary and the overall increase
in black elected officials, but would be displeased that there are not
many many more black elected officials and appointments to high places
and the lack of voter registration and participation. He would still
be calling for a “radical redistribution of economic and political
The crime rate, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, internecine violence
(indeed all violence) among people of African ancestry would deeply
disturb him. The self deprecating, vulgar language, clownish dress style
and grotesques and outlandish antics pervasive in the Hip Hop culture
would bring him to sorrow and tears.
He would criticize the absence of unity among black leaders and the
inability or unwillingness of the well-to-do achievers to unite in corporate
enterprises so as to expand their wealth, power, influence and their
ability to build institutions and elevate their people. In a word, Dr.
King would challenge the successful to be more, unite more and do far
more for the brothers and sisters and children. He probably would quote
the scriptures as was his custom, “To whom much is given much
II. The second question I’m asked, “What do I think of the
way Dr. King’s holiday is being observed? My response is a concern
that commercialization, vacation and sanitization are too prevalent
and ever deepening. What I mean is, “There is too much shopping,
buying and selling – Dr. King’s day is fast becoming like
other holidays that have been captured by corporate American; and/or
Dr. King’s holiday is viewed as a time of relaxation and recreation.
Dr. Kings has become so sanitized that his radicalism and prophetic
message has disappeared.
III. The third question, “How should Dr. King’s birthday
be celebrated? By doing what he did. There are at least 3 actions which
should be a part of his birthday celebration:
Issue Raising: the more complicated and challenging the issue, the more
deserving of attention. There ought to be a lot of people across the
nation, “speaking truth to power,” and demanding, “Let
Justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream;”
speaking on behalf of the least in society, “boats stuck at the
Street Action: there ought to be demonstrations, rallies, marches and
boycotts. There should be voices and feet heard and bodies should be
seen in the streets. There ought to be tension brought to bear where
there is injustice. “Thin paper need to be translated into thick
actions,” to quote Dr. King.
Civil Disobedience: Jails ought to be crowded with civil disobedience
to dramatize inequities, abuses and exploitation.
Every birthday of Dr. King should have all three components implemented
somewhere, the more pervasive the better. In the absence of the above
actions, we run the risk of losing Dr. King to a romanticized version
of a mushy dreamer, stripped of his rough, bold, disturbing, prophetic
It is nice to sit in warm, comfortable houses of worship, to have children
reciting poems and musician making music, politicians and the well to
do participating in various programs. There is a place for listening
to and thinking about Dr. King’s words, provided we understand
and teach that Dr. King was a man of action. Yes, he was many things.
He was multi-talented, but, he was preeminently a man of action and
to be true to his memory or to keep the real Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. alive, we must keep his dream, his words and his actions ever before
Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community
Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm
On Thursday, January 24, 2008, 7pm at the Timbuktu Learning Center,
the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) and the Alonzo Daughtry
Family Life Services (ADFLS) will host its 3rd Community Forum on Mortgage
Foreclosures, Predatory Lending, Debt Restructuring & Money Management,
at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm. Come hear from governmental
officials. Invited guests include: City Comptroller William Thompson,
Assemblyman Darryl Towns, Lois Booker-Williams, the Assistant Attorney
General of State Attorney Andrew Cuomo’s office.
On Thursday, January 31, 2008, at 7pm, The Brotherhood Department of
the House of the Lord Church, during the Timbuktu Learning Center’s
Thursday Night Community Forum, will sponsor The Screening of a Documentary
entitled “Another Look at Egypt,” presented by Professor
Clinton Crawford of Medgar Evers College.
Attend a Support Rally for the Sean Bell Family, on Sunday, February
3, 2008, 5pm at the House of the Lord Church. We will also be mobilizing
for the upcoming trial starting on February 4th.
On Thursday, February 7, 2007, 7pm at the Timbuktu Learning Center,
the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) and the Alonzo Daughtry
Family Life Services (ADFLS) will host its 4th Community Forum on Mortgage
Foreclosures, Predatory Lending, Debt Restructuring and Money Management.
At this Forum we will hear a response from the lending institutions/banks.
Invited guests include: Eric Eve, Representative of CitiBank, Maurice
T. Coleman, Representative of the Bank of America, etc.
Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday
from 2pm to 4pm.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House
of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @
For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord
Church @ (718) 596-1991.