After celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and watching the film “SELMA”, it is amazing to me the legion who want to claim credit for the success of the Civil Rights movement. It seems that the sacrifices of the many who marched and even gave their lives is lost to the revisionists who want tore-write history so their role will be elevated.
While there has been much progress made, we cannot make light of what was required to get here. We can celebrate advances but we cannot forget the struggle. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were and are amazing pieces of legislation. Their authors and supporters should be acknowledged and recognized. They paved the way to public accommodation and political empowerment.
But a legislative victory or people partying together at a club does not make one equivalent to Martin Luther King, Jr. He was willing to go against the grain, to go to jail, to make the ultimate sacrifice so that the cause of justice and equality could be advanced. And he only took up the mantle that was passed to him by the many slaves who fought on the boats or after they arrived in the country for their freedom, those who rallied against Jim Crow, poll taxes, and underfunded segregated schools to lead their families and their communities to a better future, and those who fought and died to prove their manhood and allegiance to this concept of America.
So LBJ should be remembered for his contribution. But it does not make him MLK. Hip Hop should be recognized for its contribution, but it does not equate to the Civil Rights movement. Barack Obama, John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, Malcolm, Stokely, The Greensboro Four, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, Mary McLeod Bethune, George White, Hiram Revels, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Sojourner Truth, those who fought on the Amistad and many others who could be named made contributions.
But it is our collective effort that will lead to change. Together we are the difference makers. The struggle continues and we cannot let up. We are not MLK, but we can make a contribution.