Project 21 New Visions

 

Black Leaders Turn King's Dream Into A Nightmare


by Jerry Brooks

Every third Monday in January, our nation celebrates the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King's struggle for civil rights and equality are certainly worthy of recognition and emulation. Events will honor his life and achievements. Amidst all the music and fanfare, however, some black leaders will take the opportunity to make political statements. When they do so, black Americans will once again receive a heaping helping of liberal divisiveness and the toxic gospel of victimology contributing to black America's demise.

Not long ago, I watched a replay of a past King Day celebration at a predominantly black church in Seattle. The keynote speaker was Dr. Carl Livingston, a professor at a local community college.

Livingston's speech started out well enough, but it devolved into a diatribe against the "conservative movement." Livingston presumed that conservatives in the 1980s did nothing for black Americans except try to drag us back to the South of the 1950s. He said the only way that black America can prosper is for the government to give us what we are due.

While he mixed in a touch of personal responsibility to his rhetoric, he, sadly, failed to take into consideration that numerous black Americans achieved economic success during the 80s, moving from the ranks of the poor to the middle class and higher. Minority entrepreneurship also increased substantially. So much for oppression.

Livingston's rhetoric is exactly what King Day celebrations don't need. Livingston should have saved his political diatribe for one of his classes or wrote a column. This nonsense doesn't belong in the pulpit of a church. I could only imagine what would have happened if a conservative spoke like that in a church. But I digress.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. never encouraged victimhood. Instead, he sought equality and justice for all people. His message was about unity, not the divisiveness spewing out of the mouths of many of today's black leaders. His vision was of a world where people of all colors, creeds, backgrounds and faiths could work together for a brighter future. It wasn't one where political correctness, social programs and government quotas achieved a perverse sense of equality. He eloquently spoke of the content of a person's character as the key to being successful in life, not the color of one's skin.

For 40 years, many black Americans have unknowingly participated in their own cultural deterioration. Out of wedlock births among black Americans are at a level of nearly 70 percent. The hip-hop music culture has severely distorted the true definition of manhood as well as denigrated women to the level of animals. Gangsta rap has encouraged violence, rebellion and disrespect for authority - especially law enforcement. If black children desire academic excellence and to be articulate, they're automatically and cruelly labeled as not being "authentically black."

Worst of all, conservative blacks such as Clarence Thomas and Condeleezza Rice are treated like pariahs rather than role models. I don't think Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, and 50 Cent are the type of people minority kids (or any kids for that matter) should emulate. The latter are mere flashes in our history while the former are key figures.

Far too many black Americans still place their faith in people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who are more than willing to lead them down a primrose path of self-destruction for the sole purpose of keeping their stranglehold of political power on the black community at large.

Dr. King's birthday should be more than just a day off or a chance for black leaders to take cheap potshots at conservatives. It should be a tribute to a man who literally risked it all to make America a better place. It's also a reminder that, even though we still have problems, we still have made tremendous strides in terms of equality - not just for black Americans, but for all Americans.

We can forget the true lessons of Martin Luther King's life, but we do so at our own peril.

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Jerry Brooks is a member of the black leadership network Project 21 and a political consultant in Spokane, Washington. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.


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