MLK & Katrina RE: [xmca] No MLK, on this of all days?

From: Tony Whitson (twhitson@UDel.Edu)
Date: Tue Jan 17 2006 - 01:59:18 PST

Although I have not been able to attend to this as it deserves, I believe
that there were demonstrations in NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) Monday
calling attention to the connection between the legacy of MLK and the
conditions that have been perpetuated for decades in New Orleans that only
attracted notice in the wake of Katrina.

If David Kirshner or John St. Julien or somebody else in Louisiana is
following the list now, maybe they could tell us more?

On Tue, 17 Jan 2006, Leroy Clarke wrote:

> Thanks a million Mike,
> For drawing our attention to this great historic icon (socio-cultural
> artifact if I may say??) in the person of Martin Luther King Jr. in
> whose honour the United States celebrates January 16th. Indeed, it
> should be a universal (world) holiday. He stood for human dignity and
> justice for people who are mistreated and underserved. His body was
> killed but the essence of his being--justice for the disadvantaged,
> mediates some really radical human behaviours that lives on through the
> ages.
> However, almost forty years later, and the subtleties of hegemonic
> forces continue to persist worldwide and the plight of
> racialized/minoritized peoples is more evident now than ever. In the
> area of education in North America, if you have some time refer to the
> work of Jean Anyon and David Berliner. Clearly, the MLK struggle needs
> to remain strong and inexorable.
> Cheers to all,
> Leroy
> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> On Behalf Of Mike Cole
> Sent: January 16, 2006 10:07 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [xmca] No MLK, on this of all days?
> How odd. Today is the national observance of the life and death of
> Martin
> Luther King. The sun has set. The air is getting cool. And not a whisper
> of
> the man who gave us this
> day in exchange for his life.
> If you have the time, I suggest that you check out his last speech, in
> support of badly paid, low status workers in Memphis. The URL is
> And in case you have more important things to do, here is some of the
> text
> toward the end of his speech that might reward a quick glance... or two.
> That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the
> sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually
> spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question
> is
> not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" "If I
> do
> not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?"
> That's
> the question.
> Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a
> greater
> determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of
> challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to
> make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for
> allowing me to be here with you.
> You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the
> first
> book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a
> demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was,
> "Are
> you Martin Luther King?"
> And I was looking down writing, and I said yes. And the next minute I
> felt
> something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by
> this
> demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday
> afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that
> the
> tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once
> that's punctured, you drown in your own blood-that's the end of you.
> It came out in the *New York Times* the next morning, that if I had
> sneezed,
> I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after
> the
> operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken
> out,
> to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to
> read
> some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the
> world,
> kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget.
> I
> had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've
> forgotten
> what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the
> Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what the letter said. But there
> was
> another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a
> student
> at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll
> never
> forget it. It said simply, "Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at
> the
> White Plains High School." She said, "While it should not matter, I
> would
> like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your
> misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed,
> you
> would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy
> that
> you didn't sneeze."
> And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn't
> sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in
> 1960,
> when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters.
> And I
> knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the
> best
> in the American dream. And taking the whole nation back to those great
> wells
> of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the
> Declaration
> of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have
> been
> around in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten
> their
> backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are
> going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent.
> If I
> had sneezed, I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of
> Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought
> into
> being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a
> chance
> later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I
> had
> had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, been
> in
> Memphis to see the community rally around those brothers and sisters who
> are
> suffering. I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.
> And they were telling me, now it doesn't matter now. It really doesn't
> matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got
> started
> on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public
> address
> system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King
> on
> the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be
> sure
> that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out
> everything
> carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."
> And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk
> about
> the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick
> white brothers?
> Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days
> ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the
> mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long
> life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I
> just
> want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And
> I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there
> with
> you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to
> the
> promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything.
> I'm
> not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the
> Lord.
> ---------------
> I have not seen that far myself. But I am pretty sure we have difficult
> days
> ahead. And to quote another man I admire, I find that while the
> mountains
> may not get higher and higher, the valleys
> sure do get deeper and deeper.
> mike
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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