As fate would have it, this month hosted two remarkable events. As a nation, we give reverence to one of the greatest visionaries of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the third Monday of every January. Too often, Dr. Kingâ€™s body of work is condensed and romanticized so that his message fits neatly within the political and economic power structures in a non-threatening manner. This portrayal of Dr. King is now so pervasive that it threatens to neutralize his most ambitious, daring challenges along with his struggle to confront and organize against not only racism, but economic exploitation and militarism-imperialism as well.
Given what he stood, fought and died for during his last years, itâ€™s reasonable to assume that he wouldnâ€™t eagerly embrace the notion that simply electing an African American president would be the magic pill to solve racial disparity in America or the complex, self-serving political allegiances that bring such ridicule to our country. But it is an incredible first step towards that end.
King said, "With Selma and the voting rights bill one era of our struggle came to a close and a new era came into being. Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know that it isnâ€™t enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesnâ€™t earn enough money to buy a hamburger and cup of coffee?"
This Tuesday, we witnessed as a unified nation, the inauguration of our 44th president, Barack Obama. Dr. King is remembered for his "March on Washington." It could be said that we have now seen the "March to Washington," as two million people gathered in our nationâ€™s capital to celebrate and be a part of something historic, to witness the swearing in of this countryâ€™s first African American Commander in Chief. Obamaâ€™s rise to the most powerful position in the Free World comes as a welcomed departure from the past eight years. And there is no doubt, as evidenced by his stewardship of an impeccable campaign in the face of ultimate political maneuvering, that he possesses the necessary intellectual heft and political skills to excel at the job.
It has be said as of late, "Rosa sat, King walked so Obama could run." Indeed Obamaâ€™s rise to prominence and power comes on the shoulders of many who have gone before him.
While there is hope for healing with Obamaâ€™s leadership in the midst of two failed wars, a crippled international system of capitalism and a ton of horrendous social ills, we must remain ever vigilant in our duty as citizens to hold our government accountable for its actions.
Much is said about the first one hundred days in office. Pundits and politicos reserve their judgement to await the actions of our president as he takes the helm under these daunting times. But for most of us, we watch him and his beautiful family filled with optimism, and the dream that we, as a nation, can face adversity and overcome the obstacles that lie ahead.