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What Martin Luther King did

This was painful to read but I thought it was worth it. And the writer is correct with respect to me—I had no idea that's what he did.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/29/1011562/-Most-of-you-have-no-idea-what-Martin-Luther-King-actually-did

Excerpts (emphasis in the original post):
...this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

I'm guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing "The Help," may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the mid west and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.

It wasn't that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn't sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.

You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement decided to use to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth's.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.

This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running.
...
That is what Dr. King did -- not march, not give good speeches. He crisscrossed the south organizing people, helping them not be afraid, and encouraging them, like Gandhi did in India, to take the beating that they had been trying to avoid all their lives.

Once the beating was over, we were free.

It wasn't the Civil Rights Act, or the Voting Rights Act or the Fair Housing Act that freed us. It was taking the beating and thereafter not being afraid.


This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/744793.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.

Comments

auntysocial
Sep. 16th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
I appreciated the article as giving another generational perspective, that of the writer's father. I'm assuming that the writing is genuine, of course.

I'm not qualified to answer the question of whether the terror is over. In my town of Los Angeles, the terror has been perpetrated by the police, and we keep hoping that the department has finally changed.

Edited at 2011-09-16 09:58 pm (UTC)

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