Sunday, September 8, 2013


Funny, I thought I posted this yesterday. I even put a link on Facebook. This morning it was kaput, gone, down the black hole. So, here we go again.

This is an excerpt from the conclusion of Vincent Harding’s essay The Inconvenient Hero found in his collection Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero.

This essay collection was originally published in 1996. The echoes of the fall of the Soviet Union were still reverberating. If he had revised the essay for the second edition he probably could have used manipulated anti terrorism and it would mean pretty much the same thing.

1996 the videogame industry was just taking off and “Reality TV” was a nightmare waiting to be born.

The so called Free Trade Agreement treaties were just being negotiated and signed. Beware when anyone in any government or corporate position tries to pat you on the head and tell you not to worry your little head about the details; it’ll all work out.

And the toxic hyper individualism pushed by the likes of the Ryans and Santorums was just beginning to send out its poisonous tendrils.

Harding really catches the cadence of the spoken word in the written word. If you can get away with it try reading it out loud. And Mr. Harding goes in the neglected Wordsmith column.

“Who dares recall the man when, when all the plagues he fought are still among us, standing in the way of the “America we hope to be”: poverty and exploitation, racism, militarism, materialism, manipulated anticommunism? How shall we recall him when the America which has been is still protected and justified by Bible quoting presidents and supine legislators who offer no visionary leadership to a spiritually crippled people?

Who dare rededicate themselves to the causes of this hero? Who is there now when major portions of his black middle class have made their peace, found equal opportunity in the America that is? Someone.

Who is there now when the overwhelming experience of the black church is still focused on the individualistic religious experience, breaking faith with the Tubmans, the Turners, the Truths, and the Kings (and the King)/? Someone.

Who is there now when so many Black youth in whom the fire once burned are now being cooled out by drugs, by jail, by military lies, by poisoned cultural opium in music and on screens, and by big money for small games? Someone.

Who is there when so many of his white comrades now stand by in cynicism, success, fear, and puzzlement? Someone.

Who is there when the poor (and the recently poor) now compete for crumbs across racial and ethnic lines, rather than standing together in vision, to pray, to recollect, to plan, to struggle? Someone.

Who stands with a hero who insists on living for the broken and exploited,  Who refuses to deny nightmares, who still will not let dreams die, and is not afraid to go on exploring, trembling, stumbling wherever dreams lead him? Someone.

Who will open the door for the children, to let them see him, feel him, as he was, to recall him as he is, perhaps to expose their hungry, directionless lives to the flaming vector of his passion for the poor? Someone.

Is he safely dead? Perhaps we should recall him and see. Now. Perhaps in the process we  learn again how to live – unsafely, in love with God and neighbor, with cleansing, purifying fire, with the America that is yet to be created – by us. 

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