Many people have been miseducated about the ideologies of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and it is imperative for those people who celebrate the life of King to realize the true essence of his movement.
King’s movement was not truly nonviolent. In order for a movement to be truly nonviolent, it has to have the capability of accomplishing its goals without the use of violence. According to William R. Jones, the former coordinator of the African-American studies program at Florida State University and author of the essay “Liberation Strategies in Black Theology: Mao, Martin or Malcolm,” to be truly nonviolent a person must be in a situation of power, not impotence.
Keeping this in mind, I ask, were blacks in a situation of power during the civil right movement? I don’t think so.
Mahatma Ghandi was the only person who used true non-violent resistance to rebel against unjust laws imposed by British colonialists against his people. Unlike King, Ghandi chose (and wasn’t forced into) nonviolence as a way of liberating his people.
King’s dream is still a dream today because King said when the oppressor is “forced to stand before the world and his God splattered with the blood of his brother, he will call an end to his self-defeating massacre.”
King, however, failed to realize that a racist would never look at that person as his or her brother.
Jones said there is an aspect of racism that is too often overlooked: its hierarchal division of humankind into human and subhuman groups.
King should be heralded for using what was thrown on his plate to effect change. But if he had the option of succeeding through violence with a complete understanding of racism, would he still have had the same type of movement?
As Jones said in his essay, if nonviolence is to succeed in America, one ingredient is necessary: the extravagant and selfless commitment … to the cause of black liberation.
Ibram Rogers is a senior magazine production and African-American studies student from Manassas, Va. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org