Sometimes I have the basics of an entry in my head. Then I start to type and the entry decides to take over. Looks like this one is going to be a two parter.
A couple of years ago the national hugfest over the "I have a dream" speech would probably have gotten my attention with a "boy we sure have a long way to go." I've done a lot of reading on my own in the last two or three years and it finally sank in that as far as the national mythology goes Rev. King might as well have been swallowed up by a black hole to be dropped off in Memphis just in time to be murdered.
I'd love to know what Martin Luther King was reading back in the late fifties and early sixties. When he had time to read, that is. By 1968 his word, captured by his good friend, brother in the spirit and Mennonite minister Vincent Harding, was echoing the Liberation Theology taking root in Central and South America.
In 1980 Archbishop Romero called on the police and military in his country to ignore orders to kill their fellow citizens; to work to stop the repression not fuel the flames. Two weeks later he was dead and his country continued the slide into a decade in Hell.
This is an excerpt from a speech given a few weeks before he went to Memphis.
"The storm is rising against the privileged minority of the earth, from which there is no shelter in isolation or armament. The storm will not abate until a just distribution of the fruits of the earth enables men everywhere to live in dignity and human decency. The American Negro...may be the vanguard of a prolonged struggle that may change the shape of the world, a billions of deprived shake and transform the earth in the quest for life freedom and justice."
Penny Lernoux went to South America in the seventies working the US Information Agency. She was a conventional Catholic, middle class American. What she saw changed her life. She documented the slide into US supported dictatorships and the rise of the death squads and horrors of the torture chambers in her first book Cry of the People. My used, well read copy had a list in the back of church workers, lay and cleric, who died or disappeared during those years. I would not hesitate to add an African American Baptist preacher to the list.