Monday, January 17, 2011

Everyone should post an MLK item. Here's Grace Lee Boggs and Vincent Harding

Today, I only want to add my appreciation for any MLK posts anywhere that go beyond the one part of the one speech we all know and love and (if we are not careful) take out of context. I present this example for your appreciation. Off you go, then:

A favorite piece on MLK, from the YES! archive. A conversation between Grace Boggs and Vincent Harding

by Grace Lee Boggs
posted Jan 17, 2011

Over the holidays my old friend Vincent Harding, the African-American historian who worked closely with Martin Luther King during the 1960s (Harding drafted King's 1967 anti-Vietnam war speech) spent several days with me. When he couldn't make it to my 90th birthday party in June, Vincent explained, he resolved to visit me during my 90th year and before I might be leaving this life.

A lot of our discussion centered around how in the last three years of his life, King called for a revolution in values against the triple threats of racism, materialism, and militarism. Why do most King celebrations back away from or ignore this message? Is it because he was going where most Americans don't want to go — so that there was almost a sigh of relief when he was assassinated?

King's challenge was not only directed to white people. As Vincent put it ten years ago: "All we need to do is look around us and see how much over the past 15-20 years we black folks have decided (consciously or not) to fight racism by seeking equal opportunity or a fair share in the nation's militarism and materialism. In other words, we have chosen to fight against one of the triple threats by joining the other two."...

Read the rest of Grace Lee Boggs/Vincent Harding at: YES!


CNu said...

easily the best piece I've read so far - inasmuch as it boils down the Faustian bargain many appear to have made for creature comforts at the expense of conscience and moral activity.

sadly, my great takeaway from Malcolm and Martin both is that no level of greatness is sufficient to persuade black sheeple from getting up off their backsides, and frankly, those unwilling or unable to do for self are simply not worth dying for.

if only either man had been slightly more israeli in his understanding of ponerology and taken more careful and sophisticated care to put himself and his loved ones out of the reach of his enemies, while simultaneously waging calculated and ruthless ninja-like.., oh nevermind....,

ProfGeo said...

CNu, thanks for the commentary and the new term (ponerology, which turns out not to be the study of Southerners who love corn pone). Oddly, I wouldn't have seen this piece at all (although familiar enough with Boggs & Harding) had it not been for the social media we are in a push-pull with as discussed elsewhere.

Part of my quest/process is to ask whether we can have individual or societal bargains that aren't, as you suggest, Faustian even if we disguise them or justify them. Drawing on this article for an example, fighting racism by joining and being successful in a racist military. Then beating that sword (the money, experience & education) into a plowshare later. That's sort of what I did and there's no do-overs, so I have to think about it.