Categories
harassment hate inspiring literal nazis racism violence

Remembering Martin Luther King’s courage

Martin Luther King after being hit by a rock during a demonstration in Chicago, 1966
Martin Luther King after being hit by a rock during a demonstration in Chicago, 1966

Today is Martin Luther King day here in the United States. In remembering Dr. King’s legacy, alas, his story is sometimes reduced to a few simplistic soundbites, and we forget how much of a struggle his famous struggle really was.

The one thing no one seems to want to remember is how much opposition there was to King and his message, and how ugly and violent and hateful this opposition was.

King and his family faced real threats and real harassment on a daily basis. He was subject to real violence, yet continued to preach a message of nonviolence.

As a reminder of the courage it took to be Martin Luther King, here’s an account of a march he led in Chicago in 1966, taken from Rick Perlstein’s book Nixonland. (Content warning: Racist language, violence.)

August 5. Six hundred open-housing activists, ten thousand counterdemonstrators. Some wore Nazi helmets. Others waved Confederate battle flags, carried George Wallace banners, swastika placards that helpfully explained THE SYMBOL OF WHITE POWER.

Martin Luther King, Mahalia Jackson by his side, led his legions forth: “We are bound for the promised land!”

“Kill those niggers!”

“We want Martin Luther Coon!”

Police trying to keep the two sides apart were screamed at: “Nigger-loving cops!” “God, I hate niggers and nigger-lovers,” a reporter overheard an old lady say.

Martin Luther King walked past.

“Kill him! Kill him!”

“Roses are red, violets are black, King would look good with a knife in his back.”

Instead he got a baseball-size rock above his ear. He slumped to the ground—the Gandhian moment of truth. … King got up and kept on marching. We shall overcome.

The racist mob continued to pelt the demonstrators with rocks and bottles, many of them aimed at King. Some 30 others were injured.

Why did King put himself at such risk? “I have to do this–to expose myself–to bring this hate into the open,” he later explained.

He also, as a result of his activism in Chicago, got local real estate agents to agree to abide by the city’s fair housing ordinance. Not a dramatic concession, but a meaningful one, and one that illustrated the kind of everyday discrimination that blacks faced in America.

This is what a real civil rights hero looks like.

EDIT: Here’s some footage of one of King’s marches in Chicago, and a Chicago Tribune video about King’s Chicago activism. The footage here is supposedly of King’s march in Gage Park; the march described above took place in Marquette Park, where he got an even more hostile reception.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

69 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bina
Bina
6 years ago

So, the AVFM trolls just have to come over here and crap on this day too? Just like they did with Nelson Mandela? The Greatest Human Rights Movement In The History Of Fucking EVAR™, you guyz!

Robert Ramirez
6 years ago

@Bina

They literally have no shame. They tried to hijack an anti-hate movement to promote their hate.

Shadow
Shadow
6 years ago

I don’t think Malcolm X was condoning violence or aggression. What Malcolm X stood for is self-defense and self-determination, any group of people who are facing terrorism at the hands of oppressors deserve the right to self-defense.

This!! So much!!! I despise how people try to use Malcolm X as an example of a violent revolutionary and try to use MLK as a stick against Malcom’s memory.

“Be courteous, be peaceful, respect everyone, obey the law, but if someone puts their hands on you, send them to the cemetery”

“I believe in the brotherhood of men, all men, but I do not believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t believe in brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I do not waste time in treating someone right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment.”

Also, every time I hear of the post-X America, I always think of his quote
“Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on the plate.”

The reason Malcolm is considered a preacher of violence is the same reason Trayvon Martin was not considered to be murdered and why Cece Mcdonald is in jail. It’s also the reason Jonathan Ferrell and Renisha Mcbride are dead with no consequences. Only those in power are capable of self defense

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

The reason Malcolm is considered a preacher of violence is the same reason Trayvon Martin was not considered to be murdered and why Cece Mcdonald is in jail. It’s also the reason Jonathan Ferrell and Renisha Mcbride are dead with no consequences. Only those in power are capable of self defense

Hammer, nail, head. BANG.

And of course, only those in power “need” to defend themselves against all the rabble pushing up from below.

kittehserf
6 years ago

Robert,

Your story and fear for your son chilled me, too. Long-distance internet hugs for all your family.

seranvali
6 years ago

Hmmm…looks like my first comment was eaten.

I’m not a huge BonJovi fan, but I really liked liked the way they sang this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_vcTaDnLI8

seranvali
6 years ago

Oh Robert, I’m so sorry. Nobody should have to live with this.

I have internet hugs for you and your family if you would like them. And yes, you’re safe here and can say whatever you need to.

opium4themasses
opium4themasses
6 years ago

@Robert It galls me when people try to use “The Talk” as proof of “reverse racism”.

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Robert, and anyone else, if you want to do a (belated) guest post for the Feminist Borg about racism // MLK day // etc, clicky my nym and use the contact an admin form to get in touch with me. My dumb ass completely forgot what day it was (no, really, had it known it was Monday, I may’ve realized it was MLK day…) and thus we’ve got nothing.

Borg — we’ve nothing at all lately, y’all are slackers!

kittehserf
6 years ago

The slacktivist blog, where we post nuthin!

scott1139
6 years ago

I was very moved by what you wrote about your son, Robert. There’s more I wanted to say, but I’m having trouble putting my ideas into words at the moment. Best wishes for you and your family.

vaiyt
6 years ago

Okay, Manboobz. You can eat my links, but you can’t have my freedom!

Please, people, check the Daily Kos story “Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did”. It’s a good read, and I tried to post the link twice but it was eated.

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
6 years ago

I’m also glad that people are bringing up the things he said about income inequality and economic justice. Especially considering that new report that says 85 people possess more wealth than the bottom 50% of the world’s population — that’s 3.5 billion people.

Viscaria
Viscaria
6 years ago

Borg — we’ve nothing at all lately, y’all are slackers!

I’m so sorryyyyyy I contacted you forever ago. D:

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

This is all very well but one time some feminists pulled the fire alarms and Warren Farrell had to wait for a bit till he could do his talk.

Wetherby
Wetherby
6 years ago

This is all very well but one time some feminists pulled the fire alarms and Warren Farrell had to wait for a bit till he could do his talk.

And this proves what, exactly? I deplore all attempts at silencing legitimate freedom of speech, and I suspect that’s true of most people here.

Although, that said, setting off a fire alarm is just a teensy bit less serious than calling “Kill him! Kill the c**n!”, wouldn’t you agree?

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

Also a woman with red hair shouted?

Wetherby
Wetherby
6 years ago

That’s pretty clear now – apologies!

(My sarcasm radar is normally pretty good, but given the ludicrous drivel that I see round here that’s written with what appears to be a completely straight face, it’s much harder to tell.)

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

It is; I was pretty much quoting things I’ve seen them say.