Tag: African American History

Book On C. T. Vivian Sparks Reflections

By Michael September 15, 2020 0

My C. T. Vivian Story: A Powerful Flame That Burned Brightly ( Harold Michael Harvey, Cascade Publishing House, Atlanta, 2020) sparked reflections from Richard Keil, the founder of the Tubman Museum of African American Arts, History, and Culture in Macon, Georgia.

Keil’s human rights legacy began in the 1950s at the height of the civil rights movement in the United States. read more

Harvey Pens Intimate Book on The Life of C. T. Vivian

By Michael August 7, 2020 0

Cascade Publishing House is excited to announce the publication of My C. T. Vivian Story: A Powerful Flame That Burned Brightly, by our publisher and author-in-residence, Harold Michael Harvey.

Vivian, an iconic civil rights leader and Harvey were neighbors for 27-years until Vivian’s transition in July 2020. They often shared private dinners where Vivian mentored Harvey and shared his innermost thoughts on various events that occurred during the civil rights era. read more

A Seed inside a Seed: Memphis Fifty Years After King

By Michael April 4, 2018 0

Note: This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book on the meaning of Memphis fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr.

In Memphis, “The King” may be Elvis, but the city since April 4, 1968 has been defined by what happened to “A King” on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel outside of room 306.

Like Dallas, Texas, Memphis, Tennessee suffers from a sense of metaphysical guilt over the blood, in this instance, of a King, who came in peace and was slain in its city. No city leader wants this type of tragedy to occur in their geopolitical space. It simply is not good for business; and if not good for business, city leaders walk on eggshells to cleanse their collective guilt for a crime committed within their political subdivision; and some may argue with their acquiescence. read more

Tuscaloosa More than a Powerhouse Football Team

By Michael February 25, 2018 0

Have you ever thought about Tuscaloosa, Alabama without your thoughts going immediately to the powerhouse football team whose motto is “Roll Tide Roll?”

If you have, you would be one of the rare people on the planet who does not associate Tuscaloosa with the Crimson Tide of the University of Alabama. For most people Tuscaloosa is visions of Bama on any given Saturday in the fall and usually extending into the first week of January, where they dominate the college football playoffs.

I have to admit it, until a year and a half ago whenever I thought about Tuscaloosa, Alabama, two thoughts came to mind.

One, a childhood memory of the Alabama Governor George C. Wallace standing in the door of the admissions office at the University of Alabama in June 1963.

Ostensibly, Wallace sought to deny admission to James Hood and Evelyn Malone. They were the first two African Americans to seek admission after Autherine Lucy was admitted in February 1956 and  was later suspended because the university alleged it could not guarantee her safety after riots broke out on campus.

The other is a childhood memory that extends through this day: visions of Paul “Bear” Bryant, Joe Willie Namath, Johnny Musso, Kenny “The Snake” Stabler and a host of other coaches and players who have defined college football in the image of Bama.

Then a year and a half ago, I received a telephone call from Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., the President and CEO of the International Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

He wanted to know if I could drop what I was doing and meet him in his office on Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta within the hour. Steele had a friend visiting him from his hometown of Tuscaloosa he wanted  me to meet.

I do not receive calls everyday from civil rights leaders who follow the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so I stopped in mid-sentence of the manuscript that I was working on and drove down to “Sweet Auburn” Avenue.

When I arrived, Steele introduced me to Ruby J. Simon, a Black native of Tuscaloosa, who recently had retired from the Tuscaloosa Public Schools System.

Although, I knew that Steele, George Curry, the first Black sports writer at Sports Illustrated and the archivist James Horton were from Tuscaloosa, it had never occurred to me that Tuscaloosa had a viable Black community.

Oh my gosh!

I was in for an education. Simon told me about her interest in publishing a book about the Black community in Tuscaloosa.

Since I had edited and published a book for Dr. Steele, through my publishing house (Easier to Obtain Than to Maintain: The Globalization of Civil Rights, Charles Steele, Jr., Cascade Publishing House, Atlanta, 2016), Simon asked if I would edit her manuscript and serve as publisher.

Frankly, I had little knowledge of Black people in Tuscaloosa outside of the few that I knew personally, so I did not think that there was much there; yet I agreed to read the manuscript and get back to her.

She presented me with a manuscript titled “Ruby’s Chronicles.”

Immediately, I became fascinated with Simon’s research and her story on the legacy and history of Black Tuscaloosa which predated the creation of the University of Alabama.

Simon tells her story through the lenses of two churches founded in what is known as the “Big Bend” Community in Tuscaloosa. Both churches, one Baptist (Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church) and one Methodist (Beautiful Zion African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church) were founded in 1870. They originally held services in the same “bush abhor,” splitting into the two dominations when their numbers grew too large for the bush arbor services.

I was struck by the oral histories Simon had collected, some of the oral histories had been handed down since 1865 on the very day that certain enslaved people in “Big Bend” had been notified they were now free. Had Simon not written her book, this account of the day freedom came to the enslaved in Tuscaloosa would have, in a few years, disappeared from human memory.

We went to work to fashion Ruby’s Chronicles into a volume that tells the story of the indigenous inhabitants and Africans who sustained the majority culture that has come to be known as Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

For in the beginning was the Spirit. The Spirit uttered a sound. The sound formed the Black Warrior River and caused it to bend around a land mass later to be named Tuscaloosa for the dreaded Warrior who had Native and African DNA.

The Spirit caused the river to bend around the Crimson Tide long before the first football was punted, long before the first forward pass, long before the first half-back ran around left end, long before Paul “Bear” Bryant, long before, Joe Willie Namath, much longer before Nick Saban yells “Roll Tide, Roll!”

Simon has recorded the history of the Tuscaloosa that was Tuscaloosa before football was invented. It is a look inside the Big Bend Community where on Saturdays in the fall the Crimson Tide rolls around Tuscaloosa. It is a look at the descendants of the former enslaved who sustained Tuscaloosa during the time of King Cotton when pigskin was synonymous with pork rinds and not football.

Yes, Tuscaloosa, Alabama is more than the sum total of a powerhouse college football team. In the pages of Big Bend: Where the Tide Rolls Arounds Tuscaloosa,you will meet the men and women who settled in the Big Bend Community in Tuscaloosa following the Civil War. Their stories are told by the descendants who still reside on the land their fore parents worked during the period of enslavement, then as sharecroppers and later as civic and government leaders.

Cascade Publishing House is proud to present to the world, Ruby J. Simon and her work Big Bend: Where the Tide Rolls Arounds Tuscaloosa.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com

Why Do Blacks Not Feel The Bern?

By Michael February 22, 2016 45

Why do Blacks not feel “The Bern,” a twitter connection from my hometown of Macon, Georgia tweeted me the other day?

“Why are Blacks supporting the HRC Machine,” he tweeted. “I don’t get it. Can you explain? Is it the Jewish thing or the not electable argument?”

“Bernie is preaching the spirit of the Gospel and blacks are missing his message, ” I responded with a promise to give more thought into this political anomaly.

I’m often asked in private conversation what I think about a variety of things. People throughout the world whom I have never met, nor likely will meet, will connect with me on social media when they are looking for truthful answers without a spin on one side of an issue or the other.

I am not quite sure why I have come to have such respect among the people I meet on social media, or a few people who know me in real life, who have a similar admiration for my ability to give them a rounded answer. The twitter referenced here is a man whose hand I have shaken in the flesh, and  with whom I have attempted to solve one or two of the world’s problems over a good meal and beverage or two. Although it should not matter, my friend is white, a Sanders supporter and wonders why the Sanders message is not resonating with Black folks.

Many of my Black friends have asked a similiar question.  The difference is my Black friends couch this question this way: “Do you think Sanders can get the Black vote?” Imagine a black person asking what other blacks will do with a vote that is in that black person’s hand.

I have never given a definitive answer to their questions. I usually say, “I don’t know,” which is the truth; but I have left these conversations puzzled in my own mind over this conundrum of contemporary American politics and determined to gain some clarity of thought on this issue.

As I ponder the reasons Blacks are not feeling “The Bern,” Harriet Tubman keeps coming to the forefront of my mind.

After the conclusion of the Civil War, Mrs. Tubman once said, ” I could have freed more slaves, if more people knew they were slaves.”

This statement is shared in a perfunctory manner on social media. Oftentimes, Blacks sharing it and reading it think how sad that more Blacks enslaved in that day did not realize that they were not free. Who needs a “Black Moses,” as Tubman was called, when you know with a degree of certainty how to navigate your way around the plantation?

As Malcolm X would point out a hundred years after Tubman’s exploits on the “Underground Railroad,” in his analysis of the “House Negro and the Field Negro:”

“Where  can you find a better house than this? Where can you find better food than this? Where can you find a better master than this?”

Black folks share these quotes of Tubman and Malcolm, especially in February during Black History Month, without taking into account that these words have application to the situation of Black Americans today.

On the campaign trail, Secretary Hillary Clinton in essence says to Black folks:

Hey don’t worry about anything. I’ll be the first white lady in the big White House, that your ancestors built and I’ll take care of you. I apologize for calling young Black men ‘serious predators’ and for encouraging congress to pass tough sentencing guidelines that have taken Black men out of the community and placed them in prison for most of their lives, if they were lucky to survive after 30 or 40 years. I apologize for supporting the expansion of private prisons which has led to more Black men being behind bars than those attending college. You know, it’s a tough world, and I have had to make the tough decisions. We were all scared of those Black men and had to do something about them. You don’t need to go anywhere else, stay right here with me. Where can you find a better Whitehouse than this? Where can you find  better food on your table than what Bill and I can provide for you? Where can you find better caretakers than Bill and I?

As Harriet Tubman found out, the “House Negroes” had a compelling argument for staying on the plantation; this is no less true for Clinton’s sales pitch to descendants of enslaved Africans. Many feel more comfortable with the reality they know rather than in venturing out to seek an alternative to the status quo.

This gets me to that spirit thing and that Jewish thing.

Bernie Sanders is a Jew. You would hardly know it because he does not make his cultural and religious upbringing a litmus test for seeking votes, unlike Clinton who oftens mentions that if elected, she would be the first woman president. A powerful Clinton supporter, Madelyn Albright, said there is a special place reserved in Hades for women who do not vote for Hillary Clinton, because she is a women.

If elected Bernie Sanders will become the first Jew elected president. However, he is not running on his Jewishness, but on ideas conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that All Americans should share in the wealth and prosperity of this bountiful land.

What is confusing about Sanders lack of support among Black folks is that the Black community is still largely a very religious community. Sanders platform comes straight out of the “Sermon on the Mount,” that was preached by an itinerant Jewish Rabbi.

Sanders believes that it is not okay that only ninety percent of Americans have health insurance. Many of those in the ten percent category without health insurance are Black Americans who live in southern states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures. These southern states chose not to expand their state run medicaid programs to insure their citizens. “The Bern” believes that the government should provide health insurance to all Americans.

Sanders believes that it is shameful that the unemployment rate among Black folks is at least fifty percent. He wants to create a jobs program to repair the country’s infrastructure that will eliminate unemployment in the Black community.  The crux of Sanders work program is to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour.

This will directly benefit the working “Black poor,” who will have sufficient income to take care of their families. Most sociologist agree that the absence of jobs in a community creates a pathway to crime for young people in those communities.

This measure will have enormous impact in improving the quality of life in the Black community and in eliminating the rising rate of crime and drive by shootings.

The centerpiece of the Sanders platform, and probably the thing that does not resonate with Black folk is his notion that the rich should be taxed more to provide for health insurance for all Americans and college tuition  for all Americans, including Black people, who qualify for college.

In short, Sanders’ platform is the specifics “of the things hoped for” in the Obama campaign of 2008.

Which brings me to the electability argument.

Black folks lack the faith “of the evidence of things not seen” in order to give birth to a reality that ultimately will empower their community.  Since, it is not apparent that Sanders can take on the giant corporations and win, like it was not apparent that the shepherd boy David could defeat Goliath, Black folks are skeptical about joining the Sanders political revolution.

When the dust clears in Philadelphia this summer, I will break bread with my friend in Macon, and, perhaps lament, that Bernie Sanders could have moved Black folks off the plantation, if only more of them knew they were still on the plantation.

SOURCES:

Why are Blks supporting the HRC machine. I don’t get it. Can U explain? Is it the Jewish thing or the not electable argument

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com. read more

Take That Flag Down

By Michael June 26, 2015 2

Mr. and Mrs. Southern, take that flag down. Take that flag down everywhere it flies today. It should have come down 150 years ago this past April. The flag of the rebels belong to a vanquished foe.

I hate to tell you 150 years later, but the cause for which southern Americans died under that flag was a lost cause.

It is time southern pride get over the fact that those men fighting on the side of the confederacy did not have the will or superior force to vanquish a union “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Some white citizens say that removing the flag will not stop racists from hating and haters from acting out their racism. They are probably correct, as some beliefs die in the grave.

One thing it will do is to raise up a generation of white children whose minds will not be polluted by the wounded feelings of a hate filled heritage.  It is too late for many in my generation, who will be unable to accept the drumbeat of change from a system that protected the interests of the working white poor over coloreds of any economic strata in a scheme designed to keep the races divided, while the rich get richer, the powerful more powerful and freedom seekers are left in a quagmire of hopelessness.

Many of them will not be able to heal their wounded feelings over losing a sense of privilege, a sense of superiority over colored citizens. Many will close their eyes for the final time holding onto the fantasy that the South will rise again in all of its white dominance glory. The reality is, it will not. If ever that tragedy repeats itself , it will be a cold day in hell.

Far too many African Americans think that it is a distraction to discuss the removal of  southern icons steeped in the blood of racial hatred and divisiveness in the face of the Charleston Massacre. As sad as these days are, it is time to chip away at the hate that has been destroying America from the day the first African was brought ashore in chains, captive to greed and the whip.

“Seize the times,” as Bobby Seales, Chairman of Information for the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, often said back in the 1960s.

If not today, when? Will there ever be a better time to remove these symbols?

To my countrymen who say the flap over the flag is a distraction away from a much needed discussion on race, I say that removal of the Confederate flag is part and parcel of the discussion on race.

Some of my black friends argue that the flag should continue to fly because to take them down is to rewrite history. They contend that the Confederate Flag should remain as a reminder of the pain and suffering endured by African Americans.

I say to them, the act of flying the Stars and Bars is an effort by my white southern friends to rewrite history. It is an act of white southerners to project that in spite of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, they like native Americans, are an independent nation within the United States of America. It is time that this foolish revision of history comes to an end.

Equally, it is time that African Americans revel in the fact that freedom was won at Appomattox when the Union Army aided by a host of black soldiers surrounded Lee at the courthouse. This triumphant story has been overshadowed by the South’s rewrite of history, which makes it appear, that the southern confederacy still stands and it is only a matter of time before it will have subdued the Africans underfoot again.

Take that fly down!

 

Harold Michael Harvey, is the author of the legal thriller “Paper Puzzle,” and “Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System,” available at Amazon and at haroldmichaelharvey.com. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com

 

 

Black History Week 1969

By Michael February 7, 2015 7

It was the forty-fifth day of the year, the last day of Black History Week 1969. I was a senior at the Lanier Senior High School, probably no more than five feet eight inches tall, and weighing in, after being soaked in a rainstorm, at one hundred and fifteen pounds.

Lanier had opened its doors to educate white boys exclusively in Macon, Georgia, three years before Dr. Carter G. Woodson began the first observance of Negro History Week in 1927.  Most of the town’s leading white citizens had graduated from Lanier. Many did not go on to college. It was enough to have been a “Lanier Boy.” The discipline and bearing of a Lanier boy were unmatched by any white youngster growing up in Middle Georgia during that day.

In 1964, Vernon Pitts, a rising senior at Ballard-Hudson Senior High School, the town’s oldest Negro high school, was permitted to enroll at Lanier by a federal court order. This broke a forty-year pattern of racial segregation at Lanier. Bert Bivins, a graduate of Ballard-Hudson High School had integrated Dudley Hughes, trade school, the year before after completing his military service. Also, the novelist Tina McElroy Ansa had previously integrated Mount de Sales Academy, a school run by the Catholic church in Macon, Georgia.

The following year, another court order opened the door for me to enroll in the ninth grade at Lanier Junior High School. There were perhaps twelve or fifteen of us. We were sent forth to test whether black and white students could successfully navigate the high school years without the racial violence that was prevalent in the larger society.

Throughout our high school years, we were out-numbered about ten-to-one. We were pioneers and as pioneers, we drew the brunt of white anguish over the changing times. We endured the same verbal and emotional abuse that white adults hurled upon civil rights demonstrators in the streets of southern America.

Our abuse was out of sight of television cameras. We were like captives on an island, with “nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.” There was the obvious name-calling, spitballs, a few fist fights, which in spite of the racial overtones were more boys being boys than racial hatred, and one serious threat painted on the wall of the military science building in 1968: “Niggers go home or die!”

No one went home! No one died! It fired me up.

I had for three years suppressed my desire to observe Black History Week. Needless to say, they did not teach, at Lanier, any meaningful contributions to society made by black people. The closest we came to a discussion of black people was about slavery. The hidden beauty of my segregated education prior to 1965 was in the fact that Black principals and Black teachers made sure that each February their Black students got a reminder of their place in American history.

Contributions of black people to America’s cultural and political development were never acknowledged. To do so, would hasten the day when blacks would be treated with the same equality as whites. And, on that day, no self-respecting white person wanted to give life to this possibility. Thus, my first three years at Lanier were devoid of any honorable mention of Negro History Week, the term that was in vogue in the 1960s.

I did not dare ask school administrators if the school would sponsor an observance of Black History Week. I believed that such a request would have died a terrible death and drawn more silent wrath to my remaining weeks in high school.

The thought came to me, that if all the black guys wore suits one day during Black History Week, we would cause our white colleagues to look at us in ways they had never considered before that day. This was a nice non-lethal plan, easy enough to pull off, one would have thought.

However, the plan presented two obstacles.

First, I had to convince about eighty black boys, some who did not own a suit, to wear a suit on Friday, February 14, a day that the kids usually wore blue jeans and sneakers( Students were required to wear a military uniform Monday through Wednesday and usually wore a nice pair of dress slacks on Thursdays). This was my first community organizing job. I spent a solid week on the phone lobbying all 80 black students. Initially, I was met with resistance. The guys were simply afraid to stick their heads out of the fox-hole.

So I twisted the arms of three popular athletes: Kenneth Nixon, the oldest brother of future NBA All-Star, “Norm” Nixon, James “JT” Thomas, a future winner of four Super Bowls, and Isaac Jackson, who was being recruited to Kansas by NFL All-Pro running back, Gale Sayers. When the word got out that Nixon, Thomas, and Jackson were on-board, the other kids agreed.

I went to sleep the night before the big event not knowing what to expect. When I walked on campus, I was greeted by brothers wearing suits, raised clenched fists, and the salutation: “Right on, Brother Harold!”

It was a spectacular day at ole Lanier Senior High School. The brothers looked good. Each of us represented the best of our people and the best in our families. Their chests were stuck out like never before that day. I could feel the buoyancy of pride puffed up in those black bodies, in those gifted minds.

It was very important to me to send this message to my classmates because they had pretended that we had not been present for school for the previous four years.

The second obstacle, I did not foresee. The racial blowback from white students was fierce. They called for White Power Day rallies and intimated that a cross-burning would occur at Harold Harvey’s house later that evening.

The administration, both the major in charge of the military science program and the school principal, threatened to hold me responsible for any fights that broke out that day.

“Are you kidding me,” was the incredulous look on my face. I told them both in separate meetings that we came dressed in our fine Sunday clothes and fighting was the last thing on our minds.

Also, instead of talking to me, they should be talking with the white kids, because our act of solidarity and display of pride for us and our people was not a threat to them or their way of life.

Perhaps, I was a little naive on that last point.

By 2:00 o’clock that afternoon, the coats started coming off and the ties were loosening at the collar, but the smiles – those priceless big boy smiles – I can still see the brothers beaming with pride.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round, Easier to obtain Than to Maintain: The Globalization of Civil Rights by Charles Steele, Jr.; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.

Black History Month More Than a Month

By Michael February 6, 2015 0

Black history is more than a month. Black history is made every month. There is hardly a day that goes by when some black person does not make history.

Prior to 1927 there was not any observance of black history, nor of the accomplishments of black people. There had always been historical markers made by black people that changed the course of human history. Those events were usually whitewashed leaving the public to think that only white people had contributed to the development of civilization.

As a result of the absence of recognition, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a historian, began to observe the second week in the month of February, as Negro History week. Since the American society was segregated in those days, Negro History Week, as it was called then, did not create a stir in the white community. Outside of the Negro community, few knew that the observance was taking place.

My mom is a big proponent of Negro History. She made sure there were books and pamphlets around the house that talked about the achievements of Negroes. Sometime around the 30th anniversary of Woodson’s inaugural observance, I participated in my first Negro History Week assembly program in elementary school. I was called upon to portray George Washington Carver.

Fifteen years later, I was a student at Tuskegee Institute. I found a learning haven during lunch time in the George Washington Carver Museum. Daily, I marveled at Carver’s genius.

In 1970, there was a push by black students at Kent State University to observe Negro history for a month rather than the traditional week that Woodson set up. Also, there was a push to change the name to Black History. This push was fueled by the militancy of the emerging Black Power movement of the late 1960s led by Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Toure) and Charles V. Hamilton.

As is the case with most traditions, the Negro intelligentsia was reluctant to move beyond the week observance. And many did not feel it necessary or appropriate to be called black rather than Negro. In 1976 President Gerald Ford proclaimed February as Black History Month.

Just as the movement for a month long observance and name change was gaining traction, grass root members of the Negro community sought to link their American history with the African history of their descendants, thus, African American History Month was born. The term African American did not take off until Rev. Jesse Jackson ran for President in 1988.

Black History Month or African American History Month can be observed for a whole year if African Americans want it to be. It is strictly an observance established by and primarily participated in by the black community, President Ford’s proclamation notwithstanding.

However, the observance of Black History Month may be in jeopardy. Just last month the principal of the Howard University Elementary School fired several black teachers who insisted upon teaching black history. The school is located on the campus of historic Howard University, one of the nation’s oldest universities established specifically to educate descendants of former enslaved Africans in America.

Several years ago, the actor Morgan Freeman, stated he opposed the continued observance because there is no month set aside for white history, as if the white writers of history have a need to further dramatize their dominance of the historical narrative.

If Carter G. Woodson was alive today, he would probably warn:

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

Long live the observance of black history and long live black people’s desire for equality in pursuit of the American dream.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.

 

 

Dr. King’s Vietnam War Speech

By Michael February 4, 2015 2

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out against war during an address at Riverside Church in New York, April 4, 1967. Exactly one year later, Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr. would breathe his last breath. Some say he should not have gotten himself involved in the Vietnam War. However, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that it was his abounding moral duty to lift his voice up for peace. He made his position clear and the distance between him and President Lyndon B. Johnson began to widen.

In the following passage below, Dr. King opined that if America is to be, her dark brothers and sisters must be free:

“For those who ask the question, ‘Aren’t you a civil rights leader?’ and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:”

 

Langston Hughes Pondering the conundrum of being Negro and American

O, yes, I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath?
America will be!

During the month of February let us recall the words beyond the dream. You know, Jesus gave that wonderful sermon on the Mount of Olive, then came down from that mountain and put the beatitudes into the practical reality of everyday living.  Our churches don’t tend to talk about that Jesus too much.

So too did Martin Luther King, Jr., walk a revolutionary path from the Lincoln Memorial to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Our history don’t tend to talk about that Martin Luther King too much, either.

If we are serious about eliminating war, poverty and racism, then we must seriously consider how the Master lived beyond the Mount of Olive and pay close attention to the themes of King beyond the Lincoln Memorial.

Excerpts from Beyond Vietnam, by Martin Luther King, Jr., Riverside Church, 1967