On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., the prophet for racial and economic justice in America, was fatally shot while standing on the balcony of a Memphis hotel. Only hours earlier, he had ended his final public speech with the words, “I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” In this impactful book, acclaimed public intellectual Michael Eric Dyson offers a comprehensive reevaluation of the fate of America, specifically Black America, since that date. Ambitiously and controversially, he investigates the ways in which we as a people have made it to that Promised Land King spoke of, and the many areas in which we still have a long way to go. April 4, 1968 takes a sweeping view of King’s death, remembering all the toil, triumph, and tribulation that led to that fateful date while anticipating the ways in which King’s legacy will affect the future of this country.
This celebration of King’s leadership challenges America to renew its commitment to his vision.
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Make us citizens of the United States of America!
I am an abstract fan of Mr. Dyson. Like him, I know my purpose. His is to engage the minds of the well-to-do so as to employ the least amongst us. Mine is to use the intellectual properties from the powerful minds of West, Dyson, Cosby, and Rupert Murdoch and break it down so that an 8th grader can understand it and sign up for leadership in his generation – and provide them the tools they need to change the generation that they birth (Jeremiah 14:20)
Douglas, King, “X”, Booker-T, and Du Bois lived to debate the issues and find a common ground for which all men could live in America free to exercise liberties and pursue happiness. Because today we live in a culture of anything goes where some would demand the Declaration of Impendence be re-written to redefine the intent of ‘liberties and happiness’; the social, economic, and academic equalities that the aforementioned brilliant minds died for are today what intellectuals like Dyson and West stand for – and we are no closer to meeting the goal than we were with Booker T Washington debated W.E.B. Du Bois and won.
I am glad to be alive while Dyson is in his prime. While he searches for that magic potion and while other prominent leaders dare to seek wisdom necessary to undo the damage caused by 50 years of welfare in my Black communities, I would like to challenge the intelligent and brilliant minds that Dyson represents.
Obama is a Black man and Michelle is a Black woman. Obama cannot be the radical dude that is dormant inside of him. I fear that now that Obama is in office those that have economically benefited from oppression could say to Black America…” You made it to the White House! What else do you want?” And as a result, Blacks are going to turn to Obama and he is going to have go neutral. So where do we go from here? Should I buy books from Dyson, download them into my iPod and share them with the youth in the community program that I run for youth and load their brains with a message that will not mean anything to them until they are turned down for a bank loan 10-years from now? Or, shall we do something great, immediate, and radical?
The one thing that is missing in Black America and is the same thing that is the difference between us and other ‘immigrants’ is we did not agree to come to America and therefore was ‘never’ nationalized as citizens. We do not know America because we never underwent citizenship training. We are the bastard children America made when she released slaves into a cultured that refused to share the economy in 1865 with us. Since 1865, we went from colored, to negro (with a little ‘n’), to black (that is not capitalized and represents promiscuity and evil), to African American (since the 1600’s have never stood on African soil, less known be born in the Mother Land). We have no culture! Who are we?
What would I do? We should have received the 40-arces and a mule when it was promised. Today, reparations would be a bailout plan that I do not want and if you gave us the land and the mule today, most of my people would try to find a highest bidder and be looking for food stamps a month later.
King marched on Washington to collect on a check that had been returned for –insufficient funds! The bad check that King proclaimed America wrote was America’s failure to make good on the13th, 14th , and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. This takes me to what I would do if I had access to every Black person born in America. (1) All Middle Schools or Jr. High Schools would implement the nationalization curriculum that every immigrant is taught before taking the Oath of Citizenship of the United States of America. During the High School Graduation Ceremony – they take the oath become citizens. If they drop out of school, they are not citizens until they obtain a G.E.D. or equivalent. Before they are released, every prisoner will be taught and naturalized as citizens of America. Employers representing every industry will implement a workshop tailored to their workforce and those 25 – 65 must undergo. Yes, I said ‘must’. Those ages 65 and older are exempt – because they know the deal. That’s what I would do. It’s good for God, Family, Country, and the economy! Finally, and before I write my own book, to Mr. Dyson and those that care enough about the state of Black America to be an agitator like me, I challenge you to stand together to make this happen. I do not want to be called African-American because I know some White-Folk here from Africa that are African Americans. My birth certificate says I am a Negro – that just means Black in Spanish. I am a New Negro! Black America is not going to be whole nor will we forgive America until she accepts us as ‘naturalized’ American citizens. Don’t tell me we can’t do it – we just bailed out almost every industry under the sun. Oh, and we need to fight to put phonics and common sense back in our schools!