Yet in America in recent years King’s dreams have retreated into the fog of self-righteousness. His detractors, America’s Right, has rolled back many of the voting freedoms he had fought for a half century ago, assisted by a conservative if vindictive Supreme Court.
King’s supporters were certainly re-energized this past year by a number of horrible police actions against innocent blacks. Yet so far in all but one case, the police who were implicated in the shootings have been exonerated, either discharged by juries or never prosecuted.
Dr. King is ascribed in history — like Ghandi – as a champion of non-violence. But what I most remember of King’s turbulent last days was unbelievable violence. My most vivid memory is as a very young journalist penned under a burning El Stop in downtown Chicago while the city raged in reaction to King’s assassination.
I remember gun fire was a regular sound in my low-rent apartment in Washington, D.C. during the summer of 1968. Or the unending sirens and tear gas around my apartment in Berkeley that fall.
Those days ended in victory for my side. The Vietnam War came to an end. Civil Rights and Voting Rights leaped forward. There is much violence in America, today, but it seems to occur without a cause.
Gun violence in America is horrific, today. The number of guns bought by Americans is at an unbelievable number today: there are now more guns than people.
This is not what Dr. King had in mind. So today we celebrate his 87th birthday, wishing sorely that he were still here to explain.