Sunday, August 29, 2010

Please Come Back Dr. King

It's the day after my birthday party. Last night I was surrounded by some of the most beautiful and amazing people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet. That so many tremendous humans came together to celebrate my birthday was a sweet joy and a blessing. This morning I had to fight my own internal tapes that tell me that I don't deserve to be loved by so many beautiful people, but this morning those tapes don't win. Love wins. Thank you my family, my community, my people for loving me so gently and so beautifully last night.

I have been crying for the last five minutes. And not just crying but acting like I have been beaten for doing something wrong. You know the kind of crying where you can't catch your breath. You know what I am talking about.

But they are actually happy tears. Let me tell you a story.

This morning, a person that is family to me as if he were blood kin, posted on his Facebook wall, an excerpt from Dr. King's speech "I've Been to the Mountaintop." If you haven't heard this speech, and so many people have not heard it, you should listen to it now. This was the speech that Dr. King gave the night before he was assassinated. These were the final words he spoke in public:

Well I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. I don't mind. Like anybody I would like to live a long life. Longevity has it's place. But I'm not concerned with that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I am happy tonight. I am not worried about anything. I am not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Maybe I am a big old softy...but listening to that speech in the doctor's own words maybe me choke up like an old black lady at a funeral.

Hey glory.

Yesterday was the 47th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Yesterday Glen Beck and Douchnozzle Extreme Sarah Palin held a the Lincoln Memorial....talking about taking back the Civil Rights Movement.


So glad I got that out of my system.

I am actually angry. I am so angry I could spit random toiletries. The anger is directed solely at one target: myself. I am angry that I have succumbed to hatred. On the anniversary of Dr. King's most famous speech. I have betrayed his memory and legacy by bowing down to the emotion of the enemy. I have let hatred overcome my spirit, and I have reveled in it.

I am ashamed of myself. Dr. King deserves better. I deserve better.

I wish that I could love my enemy as I love myself. I wish that I could live the spirit of Dr. King.

Let me be clear. Dr. King was a human. He was a womanizer and was not faithful to the commitments he made to Mrs. Coretta Scott King. He was gay accepting but only to a point. He kept his mentor and friend and architect of the 1963 March on Washington Bayard Rustin on the sidelines and out of the limelight because of his sexual orientation. But not despite all that, but because of all that...because he was human and because being human he still inspired us to be more than we are and gave us the space to imagine ourselves as better than this world would have us be, I love Dr. Martin Luther King.

I remember.

In high school, I had an amazing history teacher by the name of Frederick Burton. In my senior year, his three year old daughter recited, from memory, Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech as part of a Black History Month celebration in Minneapolis. Mr. Burton blessed my entire school by having his daughter's rendition of the speech broadcast over the school's intercom system. In my mind and in my spirit I can still hear her little and powerful voice say, "Free at at last...thank God Almighty...we are free at last."

I believed every word that little girl said.

The power and legacy of Dr. King is that he continues to inspire us 42 years after he was assassinated by the United States government. Now, more than at anytime when Dr. King was alive, we know the truth about him as a man. We know about his weaknesses and his foibles, and we, or at least I, love him even more for his humanity. And though Glen Beck and Sarah Palin tried to co-opt his dream yesterday...though they straight up lied about the coincidence of organizing a rally on that day while including Dr. King's fucked up, self-hating, stupid and ugly niece in the line up for the one can take Dr. King from us. No one can take his dream from us.

Dr. King DID get to the mountaintop...and he DID see the promised land...and though that land may still be far off...and though many of us may not live to see our arrival...the arc of the universe does bend towards justice...and we will get there...we shall overcome...some day....very...very soon.


  1. Brandon... you're too hard on yourself, you're only human.

    Not being a master student of all the world's religions, I can't say that every major prophet has preached love, but I can say that I've never heard of a prophet who preached anger and hate. The entire species knows, instinctively, that this is unhealthy.

    I'm as inspired by the profound greatness of men and women like Dr. King, and Jesus, to not hate. Yet, I am human and fallible.

    How do I cope with the provocation and insult that people like Savage, Beck, and Palin represent? When I'm at my best...

    1. I don't suppress the impulse to hate, I acknowledge it, and I let it run it's course.

    2. Then I let it go. Just drop it. Recognize that it serves no purpose.

    3. I take the energy generated, and let it fuel righteous indignation, and let it drive me to act. Dr. King's enemies drove him to acts of greatness, they gave him the chance, the opportunity, to be more than he could have been. That is one of the most profound ironies of history.

    4. I mentally translate the hate and anger into what it really represents: profound disappointment with the people involved. I expect better of my fellow human beings.

    Happy birthday, by the way. *hugs*

  2. Hey, Brandon! Just wanted to write thanks for the blog and wish you a very Happy Birthday today!

    V. Merchant


Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and insights. And thank you for reading!