Martin Luther King and Hope

I have just watched a BBC program called ‘Days That Shook the World’ which today explored the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. Whenever I have encountered MLK in the media, I have always come away newly struck by his power and the hope that he faced the world with. I was not born when he was killed, and am far too prone to indulge in a kind of cynical politics that never survives a single sentence he uttered. I went looking for what I think was his greatest speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”, which was made the night before he was murdered by James Earl Ray. Listening to it, I am left to wonder about what place hope has the collective of individuals and communities that are Kenya. It makes me ponder what social spaces we own that allow us to create transcendent communities in the sense that they can exist in a spirit of fairness and justice despite all the obstacles in our paths. It is quite soppy to write in this fashion but as always, after listening to MLK I felt deeply the suffering and hope that attended black people in their awful march through American history. It gave me a sense of the scale of the revolutionary triumph that the Civil Rights Movement represented. And the extent to which in those years – and perhaps even in these – black people became a community made holy by its being larger than the sum of its oppressions and disadvantages. If only I could dare hope that Kenya too is marching in similar fashion through its dark days but toward brightness and with hope a constant companion. I suspect this is the case or at the very least I pray it is.

Listen to Martin Luther King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

About bulletsandhoney
I read my first book when I was three, then my second one a few weeks later. It has carried on this way for decades with only temporary distractions of eating, fighting, loving, heartbreak and other such irrelevant biographical details.

6 Responses to Martin Luther King and Hope

  1. andy says:

    May Kenyans at least stay connected with the roots of who they are. I think the tragedy of every immigrant community in the USA, including the forcibly immigrated African Americans, is the loss of history and cultural roots. Kenyans may lack visibly in many ways, but having a connection with your own history and culture is a vast kind of wealth. I hope this makes sense. I reflected on these things after spending time in Mexico and thinking of the contrasts between Mexican immigrants in California with those deep in Mexico. Those in Mexico seemed richer by far than those who had gone to the USA in search of greater means (especially when you consider the children who grew up separated from the motherland of their culture and history).

  2. MMK says:

    Andy – I hear you on the difficulty of immigration and the difficulty of black folks in America in regard to the African cultures that are now an echo as opposed to lived experiences. But I must say I disagree on the issue of Kenyans necessarily have a vital connection with their “history and culture” in the traditional senses of that phrase. Please have a read of a post titled ‘Trashin’ Tradition’ in Diary of a Mad Kenyan Woman.

  3. Greetings,

    This is my first time reading the blog and I am an African American in North Carolina. I will say that I do not know much of what is going in Kenya due to the lack of coverage that our media allows. Honestly, I am so overwhelmed with feelings that I can not even get them out. I apologize, I will re read and post again.

    Founding Blogger,
    Our World, Our View

  4. MMK says:

    Calvin – I just checked out your website which is wonderfully open. Will be back to root around more.

    Thanks for your comment, did you listen to the speech? If that is not prophetic, then nothing has ever been.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cultural identity is overrated, would you rather be fed or have enormous culture but be wallowing in poverty?

    Culture is not a scientific constant like (Newton’s gravitational constant). Culture is for ever changing and being influenced by other cultures. No one regardless of how hard they may try will ever looses their culture, they will be changed by the new culture they experience and they too will change it. Take a walk down London streets and look at the influence of Asian and Caribbean culture of English culture.

    I find the African American lament about loss of culture interesting. Granted much was lost but the result was the worlds most influential culture. I mean every where I have been in the world everybody wanted to identify with American culture which in most cases was African American culture. I mean from the street of Amsterdam to the shanty towns of Nairobi, Sao Paolo and Kingston the influence of African American culture is very evident.

  6. MMK says:

    Anonymous – Great comment, I need add no more. Culture is dynamic and is LIVED rather than it being a kind of little bag that you cary around and reach into during a weekend outing to the ballet or African dance concert.

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