Beginning of a voice on anniversary of MLK’s death

I’ve been putting this off for a while.

A long while. And for no good reason.

The problem with me, if you call it a problem, is that my interests are varied…almost too much so…

So I plan to do my best to post here, the things I think relevant, in order to propagate thought and recording of such thought in a way that it enriches my theoretical “future seer”. I want to be a better person, and perhaps through comments and discussion, I can become that better person.

And in the meantime, I hope to be a source of interest, hilarity, intrigue, and repose.

To begin with, today, on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, I was taken with the Charlie Rose program on Detroit Public Television. On the show tonight, he had Tom Brokaw and Dr. John Hope Franklin, the 93-year-old professor emeritus of history at Duke University (among many, MANY other incredible/credible things).

There was one stand-out comment by Brokaw that I had to copy down.

Martin Luther King Jr. liberated whites as well as blacks from racism. He liberated whites from legal and institutional racism.

I had never thought about it like that before, but “for those who needed a reason” to behave the way they felt was right, they needed it to be legally and socially acceptable (unfortunately). The fact that it was the right thing to do was not reason enough. It was dangerous, without legal backing to fall back onto, to make decisions, unbiased and race-blind decisions without fear of retaliation from separatists, racists, red-hunters, etc. And King was instrumental in freeing the actions of whites to be courageous and righteous in the eyes of legislation to treat all people with human dignity.

It feels empowering to have learned this angle today/tonight.

I decided, after hearing them talk about King, that I wanted to know more about Franklin, and so I watched this video on Charlie Rose’s website.

As a six-year-old, in 1921 (approx), he was more than introduced to racism, being kicked off of a train for having sat in a white area of the train, and subsequently fearing his father’s death in the riots and burning of the black areas of Tulsa. It was the worst race riot in U.S. history, with close to 300 blacks killed by whites.

Clearly these events shaped the visionary that Franklin was to become.

His professor at Fisk, Theodore Courier, during 1935, was able to provide money for Franklin to go to Harvard when Franklin’s father was unable to adequately pay. The Depression was taking its toll. I was lightened to hear him talk about his white professor, in a time of turmoil, racial and otherwise, being able to make money the last issue that would keep Franklin out of school. The difference someone can make in the life of a friend or stranger simply makes my head spin. It causes me to pause and wonder why I have not taken every opportunity to leverage others against their hardships.

I was amazed at hearing the things this man was involved in that I had not heard before. How had I not heard about this man before? I seem to ask myself that frequently when I learn about a new civil rights or human rights figure who isn’t white. I mean, the man was asked by then-principal-attorney Thurgood Marshall (before he was a judge) to help him with the case of (Linda) Brown vs. Board of Education to desegregate schools in the United States! This is major stuff!

John Hope Franklin on Charlie Rose in 2005

Just in the interview, hearing them discuss topics such as James Meredith trying to get into the University of Mississippi, made me say, “What the hell is that story about. I’ve never heard of that.” So I am making my entry here so that I might seek that story out. Shockingly, in getting the link to his wiki page, I see that he graduated August 18, 1963 in Political Science 16 years and ONE DAY before I was born. The reason this stands out to me is that I remember stupid things like, celebrities birthdays one day before or one day after mine (Prince, Madonna, Elvis’ death) but not something this pivotal. I know why I didn’t know this fact, but I wish I had. Now I do.

I was also startled to hear that racism began during the “Great Migration” in 1618. 1618!! And in my googling, I found out that 1.618 is the number commonly referred to as the Golden Proportion, a natural number of supernatural prowess. Perhaps this is one of the universe’s nudges to remind us of how important this event/advent/struggle is and will be.

I loved hearing him talking about reparations! Finally, I have an insight from someone reputable…and not white! Awesome!

Not only was listening to this eloquent man (then 90) wonderful, but it was eye-opening to see someone of this age with more than basic faculties…the man remembers more than I do! His strength of mind astonished me, really.

I love his story about his own version of a Rosa Parks-like event on a bus. He decided to stay in his seat in the late 40s and his description of the event…the frustration with the ridiculous notion of moving to the back of the bus…his courage and apex of discomfort over the whole thing mixed with his ability to react non-violently and with dignity (to a point of beauty) seems impossible for me…I could not have done it…and I have the utmost respect for those who did, whether or not they got the media attention that Parks did. I know others exist. I know others could not have continued with that kind of treatment.

I am now looking forward to eventually getting his book, Mirror to America, The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin.


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