Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK in Detroit: The Great March to Freedom

When Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) spoke at the "Great March to Freedom" in Detroit on June 23, 1963, he offered a Detroit version of the "I Have a Dream" speech. It included this line: "I have a dream this afternoon that one day right here in Detroit, Negroes will be able to buy a house or rent a house anywhere that their money will carry them and they will be able to get a job. . ." The dream stands, though reality has not caught up. King gave a slightly more refined Dream speech at the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" on August 28, 1963.

When Malcolm X (1925-1965) delivered his "Message to the Grassroots" in Detroit on October 10, 1963, he deplored the term "Negro" and advocated its replacement with "black." The change in parlance worked, with the additional choices of "Afro-American" (mostly 1970s) and "African American." Black and African American seem about equally acceptable in 2012. Contemporary use of the term "Negro” is rare as a hen's tooth.

Malcolm X from the same Detroit speech: "I would like to make a few comments concerning the difference between the black revolution and the Negro revolution," he said. And he did. He also quipped: "Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research." And he was right. It still is.

Both MLK and Malcolm X opposed the Vietnam War and would undoubtedly have opposed the Iraq War of 2003-2011.

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