BAYHAM: MLK On The Mountaintop

In the Book of Deuteronomy, God commanded Moses to ascend Mount Nebo to gaze upon the promised land of the Jews, land the prophet would never tread upon.

On the night before he was fatally gunned down, Rev. Martin Luther King delivered what turned out to be a prescient oration, that like Moses, he would not make it to the promised land, a transformed country where the rights guaranteed in the constitution would finally be realized by all Americans and when peace and harmony existed between people of all the races.

But what if Rev. King had been afforded the same vision that the Lord had given Moses? What would the civil rights icon had seen while looking down upon the country in 2013?

Rev. King would exult over the removal of the barriers that were erected to prevent black Americans from registering to vote and take great pride in how a record percentage of black voters flocked to the polls to exercise the right he and his peers risked their lives to attain.

He would doubtlessly smile at seeing tens of millions of white voters joining with millions of black voters to elect the nation’s first African-American president.

Rev. King would be stunned to discover the educational and economic opportunities created by law and institutional policies benefiting African-Americans, from minority scholarships to business loans with favorable terms and vendor set-asides.

Perhaps Rev. King would even be overwhelmed and a bit embarrassed by the plethora of tributes that dot the country, including the hundreds of streets and schools named in his honor and the erection of an impressive monument along the National Mall, not far from where he would delivered his signature speech.

But to the left of the illuminated vision of the future, he would see heart wrenching despair lurking in the shadows.

Rev. King would be saddened to see so much violence in the black community as young black men are the number one killer of young black men and embarrassed to see five black teenagers wounded by gunfire in New Orleans, on the very street named for him moments after a parade honoring his legacy had just concluded.

Rev. King might be taken aback to learn that his likeness and work have become a commodity for licensing, just like Mickey Mouse, and that his family received almost a million dollars for their cooperation/blessing with the creation of his monument.

I could only imagine his dismay upon learning that video of his “I Have a Dream” speech, a historic milestone in the civil rights movement delivered before a quarter of a million people, can’t be rebroadcast without “proper licensing”, in other words paying a fee to the King family’s business managers.

His ears would sting with pain as a vile word that had been hurled at him by opponents to integration is now blasted recreationally on the car speakers of many young black people.

He would also hear familiar angry racial rhetoric, this time spewing from the jowls of black political ministers trying to achieve the same electoral ends of segregationist pols from the past, the election of Democrats by appealing to people’s fears and prejudices.

It would be a challenge for Rev. King to find white children and black children playing together on a schoolyard because of the decrepit state of public education in urban areas has caused many American families of means to send their kids to private or parochial schools, creating a de facto segregation.

And in a particularly biting irony, underprivileged black students are now blocked from entering into higher performing private schools not by southern segregationists but by Democratic politicians and teacher unions standing in the doorway in their war against tuition vouchers.

The Baptist minister would be surprised to learn that the struggles he endured and gave his life for had been hijacked by gay activists in their brazen attempt to claim lineage from his cause to theirs.

And then he might frown upon the celebration of the 50th anniversary of his signature address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial upon learning that some prominent African-Americans were not invited because of their party affiliation, including the nation’s lone black member of the US Senate.

That “No Coloreds Allowed” signs have been swapped with “No Republicans Allowed” by the beneficiaries of his toil is something that might have hit close to home as Rev. King’s father had been a registered Republican.

And the man who defined himself as a practitioner of non-violent protest and advocate of peace would express his disappointment with the nation’s first black president for invoking revenge to motivate people to vote for his reelection, employing his rhetorical gifts to divide the country instead of uniting it and his refusal to immerse himself into the biggest problems facing the black community, especially the destruction of the family through accepted widespread illegitimacy.

Standing on Mount Nebo looking into America’s future, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have shed tears, of both joy for what has been accomplished through changes in the laws and temperament of the country, and of sorrow for the division and discord that has been sown by “pretenders”, a culture of personal irresponsibility and violence that has continued to exile millions of blacks into a quasi-permanent underclass if not prison or an early grave and the opportunities for a better life squandered and not pursued.

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