We had wanted, at least, to touch your sleeve.
We brought both babies as to a christening.
—Van K. Brock, “King”
We stood in line for hours to see his body.
My parents said they knew the line would be long.
They took turns carrying my brother I walked beside them.
They say twelve hundred people filed past each hour.
They say the casket was African mahogany lined with white silk.
His face looked waxy women bent to kiss it.
His moustache was perfectly trimmed I have seen pictures.
My parents said they knew the line would be long.
President Johnson had declared it a national day of mourning.
My brother was one and a half I was three and a half.
My brother was crying my brother was hungry.
I don’t know how I felt probably scared.
I don’t know how I felt about the endless stricken faces.
I know they were stricken I have seen pictures.
That day riots were everywhere people were dying but not here.
That day in Washington hundreds of fires were burning.
They say it looked from the air like it had been bombed such smoke.
That day our planes were bombing North Vietnam.
And that day the bodies were rotting unburied in My Lai.
And that day King’s brother was giving a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist
called “Why America May Go to Hell.”
That day that day they say they said.
My parents knew the line would be long.
My parents taught us there’s no such thing as Hell and there’s not.
There’s nowhere for America to go.
Carmichael said it was white America that did it.
Get your gun he said some did but not here.
Hoover said the FBI would prevent the rise of a black messiah.
He didn’t say how that was a month ago.
King said longevity has its place that was four days ago.
I have no memory of the day in question.
Closing my eyes won’t bring it back pictures won’t either.
I could squint like this forever what’s the point.
There is no witness without memory.
My parents knew the line would be long but not this long.
My brother was crying my brother was tired and hungry.
If only he could have held out a while longer if only then what?
I wish I could say at least that we touched his sleeve.
We never even made it to the casket.
Now rock the boat to a fare-thee-well.
Once we suffered dreaming
into a place where the children are playing
their child’s games
where children are hoping
if unknowing they follow the game
Their fathers are dying
back to the freedom of wise children playing
their fathers are dying
whose deaths will not free them
of growing from knowledge
when the game becomes foolish
a dangerous pleading
for time out of power.
children kiss us
we are growing through dream…
Sue Hartke, Civil Rights Activists 1968
From MLK’s legacy and the renewed assaults on the working class and oppressed | San Francisco Bay View by Abayomi Azikiwe:
In February of 1968, the Memphis sanitation workers, who were almost all Black, went on strike in this Southern city demanding recognition and collective bargaining rights through the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The racist city administration of Henry Loeb refused to negotiate with the workers and a citywide strike support committee was established and headed by James Lawson, a longtime civil rights organizer.
King was invited to come to Memphis to address a community rally on March 18, where 13,000 people gathered to hear him speak. He called for a general strike in Memphis to force the city administration to recognize the sanitation workers.
On March 28, the day of the general strike, the police rioted and attacked a mass demonstration in downtown Memphis. The city administration shot dead a 14-year-old African American youth and declared an emergency, calling in the National Guard to suppress the demonstrations and the sanitation strike.
In November 1964, the FBI sent Martin Luther King Jr. a package, containing a letter and several recordings. Besides a few dirty jokes, the recordings mainly consisted of King having sex with women other than his wife. The letter concludes with a warning: “[T]here is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significant. There is but one way out for you.” King and others interpreted this as a veiled threat, and a suggestion that he commit suicide. It’s unclear what the 34 days referred to, but presumably it was to prevent King from accepting his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, on 10 December.
If you want to read more about this search “Cointelpro” (Counter Intelligence Program). There is a lot of information on the web but I’ll let you sort conspiracies (and FBI propaganda) from what you take as truth. I believe the anonymous activists (Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI) who broke in to the FBI to steal and leak these papers are as important and as deserving of respect as Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning.
MLK Week featuring SAUL-WILLIAMS for MTV2 (by supermusicman721)
How Gil Scott-Heron and Stevie Wonder set up Martin Luther King Day | Music | The Guardian
We all took the stage. The crowd continued to chant: “Martin Luther King Day, we took a holiday!”
Extract from Gil Scott-Heron’s memoirs, click through to read. I miss him in the world.