March Madness: Glenn Beck and the Death of Civil Rights.
The date is August 28th 2010, and Glenn Beck stands before a crowd of 100,000 fellow Conservatives holding the severed head of a Martin Luther King Jr statue like a victorious Roman gladiator. With Sarah Palin by his side, he, triumphantly, yells, "free at last; free at last," as the civil rights leaders can only weep from afar...
There is an old saying that if you love something, set it free and if it doesn't come back it was never yours to begin with; so it is with Glenn Beck and the Right Wing's, upcoming, "Restoring Honor Rally" which is scheduled to take place this Saturday in Washington DC, commemorating the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "March on Washington."
Of course, some members of the civil rights generation are afraid that this is an attempt to kill their movement and are holding a counter rally called "Reclaim the Dream."
What must be noted is that for many African Americans who came into political consciousness during the Hip Hop Era, the Civil Rights Movement died a long time ago, as its end game strategy of cultural assimilation has proven to be unable to cure the societal ills facing the black community.
For nearly 50 years they have pushed a commercialized version of Dr. King's struggle for racial equality to this country. This is the version of black history that is easily co-opted by white America and of which Glenn Beck and others consider themselves the rightful heirs.
However, there is a non-commercial version of the African American experience that the Right Wing will not touch with a 10 foot pole. This is the ideology embraced by many younger African Americans that includes black empowerment , black self determination and an Afro-centric world view.
Can you imagine Sean Hannity holding one of his Freedom concerts at the site of the 1972 Wattstax Music Festival which commemorated the Watts Rebellion of 1965? Or do you really believe that Glenn Beck would hold an event on October 16 to commemorate the 1995, Minister Louis Farrakhan led, Million Man March/Day of Atonement and have a million white men gather to beg forgiveness for their crimes against non-white humanity?
Of course not. These events are pretty much off limits. However, the March on Washington is ripe for the pickin'.
Although, the conservative talking heads, constantly, refer to mainstream black leaders as "poverty pimps," who should not be in leadership positions, there is one major flaw in their criticisms. In some warped version of the Hegelian Dialectal Principle, they chose them. For the most part, the civil rights leaders have been ringers. (Or as we say in the 'hood marks.)
Now, you have to give it to the Tea Party people , when they roll out to a march they come to chew tobacco and kick butt and at this point they are all out of Red Man. As for the civil rights folks, they put so much emphasis on easing ,unfounded, white fears of a bloody revolution that everything else kinda gets lost in the translation.
"blah blah blah....NONVIOLENCE...blah blah blah"
This lack of aggression does not go over too well with a generation who grew up on rap videos and Grand Theft Auto video games.
Not to mention, the focus of the Civil Rights Movement on what writer Harold Cruse called "non-economic liberalism" is seen as outdated by members of a Hip Hop generation who consider black self -made millionaire entertainers as role models, some of whom got there start by selling cd's out of their car trunks.
Also, for a community that is suffering from black on black youth violence, an over emphasis on "little black boys holding hands with little white girls" is seen as treason.
As Hip Hop artist KRS once rapped "the civil rights leaders ain't seeing...they wanna be equal with the white...I wanna to be equal with the light...."
As we move toward the mid term elections and King's, prophetic, "difficult days ahead," America will see the rise of a new movement of younger, more Afro-centric thinkers, writers, activists and historians who believe the keys to solving our problems do not lie in the minds of white Americans but are buried deep within our African souls.
If more black folks knew the historical truth about Martin Luther King, instead of getting their underwear in a bundle over Beck's rally they would get quite a chuckle from the arrogant ignorance of the Right.
For most people, their knowledge of Dr. Martin Luther King ends, immediately, after his "I Have a Dream Speech"of 1963. However, the remaining years of his life found him, increasingly, sounding more like a black militant Marxist -Leninist than the Southern preacher of the Montgomery Bus Boycott fame.
Do the Right Wing champions of the white middle class realize that ,according to Kenneth O'Reilly in his book "Black Americans: The FBI Files," at the time of his death, King was planning a Washington Spring Project/Poor People's March which would have pressured the government to spend more money on the same social programs that are hated by Conservatives ?
Also, how can a bunch of folks who pride themselves as being the major advocates of big business embrace the ideology of a man who, the night before he was assassinated, delivered a speech not only calling for economic sanctions against Coca Cola and Wonder Bread but also asking African Americans in Memphis Tennessee to take their savings out of the white owned banks and put them in black ones?
Lastly, although the Tea Partiers constantly bash President Obama for hangin' with radical homeboys such as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, according to Dr. Devin Fergus in his book, "Liberalism, Black Power and the Making of American Politics 1965-1980, the day of his assassination, King met with a gang called The Invaders, "a group patterned after the Black Panther Party" in order to "help the group secure funding for community programs."
If a bunch of intellectually, challenged yahoos whose resident genius is Sarah Palin can 'jack an event held so dear to the civil rights folks, more power to 'em.
Instead of "reclaiming the dream" we need to be reclaiming our history and cultural identity because ultimately, that is only the solution to our problems.
As Dr. King said "Yes, I'm black and proud of it! I'm black and beautiful !"
And that is something that Beck and company can never take away.
Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired.com. For more information on the Intelligence Over Ignorance lecture series on Race, Rap and Revolution contact (919) 451-8283 or firstname.lastname@example.org