Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, at the MECAWI office in Detroit, on March 15, 2008, right before the downtown demonstration against the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war. (Photo: Alan Pollock).
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
By Norman (Otis) Richmond
Special Broadcast With Abayomi Azikiwe at Noon on CKLN, FM 88.1 in Toronoto. Just click on the following URL to hear:
The Nation of Islam’s leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan, was guaranteed a laugh everytime he spoke of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “Don’t you know that a man who has a dream is asleep?” he would say.
Dr. King delivered his most famous “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963 at the March on Washington D.C. By April 4th 1967, he was singing a different song. Dr.King’s dream moved closer to El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X’s) nightmare.
The corporate press had frozen Dr. King in 1963. The progressive movements in the United States and around the world however, have brought to light how King’s position shifted to the left.
By the time of his assassination on April 4, 1968, King was opposing the war in Vietnam and supporting struggling sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.
Contrary to popular belief, King was not the first African American leader to oppose the war. Malcolm X was. Malcolm X was followed by the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, (SNCC), and the Black Panther Party, which spoke out before King.
Muhammad Ahmad’s (Maxwell Stanford, Jr.), We Will Return in the Whirlwind (Black Radical Organizations 1960-1975) and Kwame Ture’s (Stokely Carmichael) Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), documents how RAM and SNCC came to oppose the illegal war in Vietnam.
There are many facts about King’s life that are not widely known to today’s African youth. One example is that he visited Africa before Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad. Kwame Nkrumah invited King to Ghana’s independence celebration on March 6, 1957. Malcolm X’s first visited Egypt in 1959.
King was light years ahead of his contemporaries on the South African question. It must be understood that the masses of Africans in the Western Hemisphere embraced Pan-Africanism in the 1970s.
President of the African National Congress, Chief Albert Lutuli-- won the Noble Peace Prize in 1960-- and Dr. King wrote an “Appeal for Action Against Apartheid” in 1962.
King had a special relationship with Jamaica. It must never be forgotten that Kingston, Jamaica and Atlanta, Georgia were twin cities at one point during the 1960s. Several of his books where written in Jamaica. In 1965, King spoke in Kingston. While in Kingston he visited Garvey’s grave and paid tribute to the great African nationalist.
My comrade, Milton Blake (former host of the Musical Triangle who recently joined the ancestors) told me that when King spoke in Jamaica he (Blake) was nursing a broken leg. He heard the speech on the radio and later read it in the local press. He memorized the speech and at a recent CKLN FM 88.1 fundraising drive, he recited some of it for of his listeners.
Following that address, King dropped in unexpectedly, to the pleasure of all 500 present, at a reception at home of the USAID director. The following day, he visited the grave of National Hero Marcus Garvey to lay a wreath out of respect for a man he said, “gave “Negroes” in the US a sense of dignity, a "sense of personhood, a sense of manhood, a sense of somebodiness".
Muhammad Ahmad, Kwame Ture, and Minister Louis Farrakhan, had to take a second look at King.
King never claimed to be a Marxist but had read some Marx and was fiercely anti-capitalist. According to Stephen B. Oates historian/scholar during the Christmas holidays of 1949, Dr. King spent his spare time reading Karl Marx.
He “carefully scrutinized” Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto and several interpretive studies of Marx and Lenin. Marxism-Leninism clashed with his Christian worldview, however.
Oates goes on to say that King, “thought Marx correct in much of his criticism in Das Kapital, which underscored for King the danger of constructing a system on the sole motive of profit.”
If King was among us today it is safe to say he would oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He probably would attempt to broaden the anti-war movement to take an active role in the wars on the Africa continent.
We know that he would chastize Western governments for their imperialist role in the Caribbean. It is safe to say that King would be on the side of the movement for reparations.
Remember, he hinted at this in his “I Have a Dream” speech. “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
While King spoke for Africans at home and aboard he also supported the liberation of all oppressed people. One of my favourite quotes from Dr. King is: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
A Different Book List will present Michael Eric Dyson author of a new volume APRIL 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death and How it Changed America on April 21st.
Abayomi Azikiwe editor of the Pan-African New Wire will discuss the legacy of Dr. King 40 years later on Saturday Morning Live , March 29th at 12pm on CKLN-FM 88.1. http://www.ckln.fm