Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fifty Years On: MLK and The Great March to Freedom in Detroit

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.

Including 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 2013. Contemporary usage of the term "Negro” is rare as a hen's tooth, but contextualized reminders appear on the AMC Series Mad Men.

Malcolm X from his 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 US-Vietnam War and would undoubtedly have opposed the Iraq War of 2003-2011. I dearly wish they were both still with us today -- and they could have been. Nelson Mandela, after all, was born in 1918, and is senior to both!

Today's Rune: Wholeness.   


Charles Gramlich said...

Although I understand the power of names as they are imbued with energy by the people who use them, the whole argument over what folks should be called and call themselves has always seemed strange to me. It is an argument, essentially an argument over a spiritual matter rather than a physical one.

Erik Donald France said...

Interesting. Culture, power, spirit.

jodi said...

Erik, my old Grannie is the only person I know that said 'negro'. And she meant it with respect!