This week many across the planet celebrated the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. He was a hell of a performer. He set the world on fire like no other before or after him. Although he never wrote or composed his own songs, he boldly reached out to different communities across the world and most importantly, within the troublesome America he lived through. He had the guts to cross the railway tracks and reach out to the Black community in times of segregation and institutionalized racism. He also always acknowledged the Black roots of his music. “If I can Dream” was composed and performed during the darkest hours of civil rights struggle in America and is a clear homage to another great King: Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.
Last April was the 40th anniversary of a milestone speech delivered by Dr. King in which he marked a clear break with US’s foreign policy. “America is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” he noted. The speech, titled “Beyond Vietnam; A Time to Break Silence,” was delivered at the heights of the Vietnam War and the actions of successive US administrations, have only confirmed the visionary words of Dr. King.
His Courageous analysis placed him at odds with the American Establishment and some other Black “leaders” of the time. He went on asking his followers:” [let us] rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -but beautiful- struggle for a new World”
Here is an excerpt:
Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on…
…Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition…
Doctor King was assassinated exactly one year later.