I typically have a strong aversion towards honoring immortal leaders on the anniversaries of their physical departure. This reservation is due largely to the belief that it is a crucial moment in consciousness to understand that “life” is relative, and to be alive is to proceed with purpose—and no one does this more profoundly than our ancestors. So to regard them as dead is as appropriate as regarding a (black) royal as an “American,” a victim as a villian— a mis-definition that is at best incorrect and at worse violent.
Yet remembering King on the day he was murdered seems eerily accurate as his murder marks the beginning of his performative appreciation.
King, the canonical figure, is an American hero, as he speaks to the false premise America tells the world. King is the shining knight of American history, speaking out against the injustice that inevitably killed him. In life and death, King functioned to illuminate white evil, as his pleasantry exposed whites as crass, his strategy exposed whites as tactless, and his perseverance depicted whites as devoted to devilish actions.
History remembers King in a manner inconsistent with how he was regarded in life. Contrary to popular portrayal America did not love the King of Love. America murdered King, in the same way they murdered his ancestors. America continues to murder king, in the media dismemberment that remembers King in pieces that distort and mangle a man of purpose, class, and charisma.
In short, the King of Love teaches those of the black collective the danger of the white world “loving” you. King was strong, but white remembrance weakens his contribution. King was not a dreamer, he was doer. King was not opposed to segregation, he was opposed to racism—the underlying evil that poisons blacks everywhere. Yes, King was a lover of all humanity, but he dedicated his life to loving black people.
Yet, history uses King as a veil, employing his legacy to the lies of America. In history King illustrates the American Dream, to the conscious King illustrates that whiteness could not care less about “approach,” if African blood runs through your veins.
While certainly not content in King’s assassination, I am happy that King and Malcolm X existed alongside one another– as King’s assassination on his day fifty years ago illustrates that it was not Malcolm X’s teachings that proved a catalyst for his murder three years prior, but his influence. So while appropriated as the “good negro” posthumously, even the King of Love— a public humanist– was not “good” enough to escape the grace of a silver bullet.
Slain and sentenced to an earthly silence where he could be molded and partially represented in the violence of white exteriority, King became the ideal candidate for America’s prince of pretend change. But in remembering King’s role in “our” story, he remains on his rightful throne—placing the “civil” and “right” in the wrongfully appropriated term civil rights, and epitomizing the “a” in man as as African specimen of pure black masculinity and unflinching courage.
Dr. King—thank you.
Black Power ❤