Many that never knew Martin Luther King, Jr have tried to use his words in a way he never would have intended. Yes, he advocated non-violence but not passivity, acceptance or denial. Martin Luther King, Jr was a warrior; he did battle on behalf of righteous causes. He was fierce, getting on the nerves and in the face of Sheriff’s, Governor’s and President’s for not making their lives easier by accepting the status quo.
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The Age of Trump is my name for the current era, seemingly defined by the reaction of many white people to declining demographic sway, loss of privilege and blaming the wrong people for their economic decline. Instead of looking at the top two percent who are amassing all the wealth. They pull down the other crabs in the bucket that don’t look like them.
Most of the tactics being utilized in the Age of Trump are not new. They can’t even be ascribed to Trump who has yet to have an original idea. He is only the blowhard figurehead of a thinly veiled effort to make white people great again at the expense of all others. He openly has no real values or moral compass, shifting with every wind. He stands for white uber alles, and for that reason alone many voted for him with his promise to, “Make America Great Again!” We now find him on the verge of becoming President. What would Martin think of all this?
I think Martin would not find this all new. He would look at Jeff Sessions and see Bull Connor. An Alabama official that advocates voter suppression and warns black people about how to speak to whites would be all too familiar. That an FBI Director would take steps which may have turned the tide of an election would not shock. The Director in his time, J. Edgar Hoover, blackmailed Presidents and legislators and tried to convince MLK to kill himself. The voter suppression of today is far less deadly though perhaps equally effective as when people literally died trying to get the right to vote.
I think he would side with “Black Lives Matter.” He would recognize the categorization of them as “radical” and “divisive” which they did to the SCLC as well. He would knowingly nod at attempts to de-legitimize the messenger because they have no response to the message.
What I call The Age of Trump did not begin when Donald Trump received the Republican nomination for President. Not when he announced his candidacy. It began on November 4, 2008 when a black man, Barack Hussein Obama, was elected President of the United States. The following January, while Barack and Michelle Obama were attending inaugural balls. Mitch McConnell and Republican leaders were clandestinely meeting about how to undermine the new President.
While Donald Trump didn’t initiate the movement that became The Age of Trump. He soon became its unquestioned leader, heading up the Birther Movement and making his appeal to the far right and the ultra-white.
Would Martin Luther King, Jr hate Trump?
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him!”
Would he be afraid?
“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”
Would he be bitter?
“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”
Would he lose hope?
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope!”
In the Age of Trump, Martin Luther King, Jr would do now as he did then. He would lead. He would organize. He would advance the struggle and prioritize. He would form coalitions and grow the movement. You would not find him at pity parties. Lamenting everything Trump. He would lead. He would organize.
During the Age of Trump, we have seen major protests, some of which resulted in violence. In Ferguson, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Baltimore and Brooklyn. Some would ask, “What would Dr. King think?” Remembering his desire for non-violence. Here’s what he did say after outbreaks in his day:
“A riot is the language of the unheard.”
During the Age of Trump there are many that are unheard. Martin Luther King, Jr would not advocate violence. But he would act. No doubt his life would be threatened now as before. What would he say?
“A man not willing to die for something is not fit to live!”
Martin would call out for us to get involved. Each according to their gift. He would not seek consensus, he would mold it. Dr. King is no longer with us. Others must take his place. Maybe him, maybe her… maybe you? The Age of Trump is not the time to do nothing.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter!”
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