If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would be as thrilled as anybody that Barack Obama is doing so well as the first Black president of the United States. Yet he would be the first to remind us that we are still far from reaching the Promised Land that inspired his prophetic dream.
No doubt Obama himself is all too mindful of this. His election was only one small step on the march towards equal rights and opportunities for all Americans. Indeed, nothing betrays the fatuous notion that his election ushered in a post-racial era quite like Selma-like marches against police brutality that were held over the country last year.
Only private citizen
But Monday was MLK’s day. It speaks volumes that he is the only private citizen (Black or White) to have a federal holiday declared in his honor. Hell, even Washington and Lincoln have to share one holiday on Presidents Day. And with the August 2013 dedication of his memorial, MLK is now perched on the Mall alongside them in perpetuity.
All of which might explain why Washington’s monument is glaring down on MLK’s. Seriously, though, am I the only one who thinks Washington’s looks eerily like a stonemason’s monument to the KKK?
As I wrote in October 2011, “There was considerable media coverage…of workers repelling down the Washington Monument to inspect damage caused by the recent earthquake. However, while most people seemed mesmerized by the acrobatic feat this entailed, I could not help noticing how much up-close images of the cone of the Monument resemble the hood of a Klansman.
“I’ve read accounts of Freemasons, who were instrumental in building D.C., inserting Masonic symbols all over the city. Therefore, is it so farfetched to think that this monument, which was built between 1848-84 as a memorial to George Washington, also paid homage to the prevailing symbol of White supremacy?”
A down payment
Whatever the case, Monday’s holiday is not just a testament to MLK’s greatness. It’s a symbolic down payment on the promissory note that represents the unpaid – if not unpayable – debt America owes descendants of the Blacks it enslaved.
I can think of no better way to mark this MLK holiday than by pledging henceforth to tune out all politicians and pundits who traffic in incendiary rhetoric. Such rhetoric only divides Americans and could even inspire political assassinations.
Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian native with an international law practice in Washington, D.C. Read his columns and daily weblog at www.theipinionsjournal.com.