While visiting my nephews in Washington, DC I visited the new-ish Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. I wanted to to remember an ex-boyfriend, now dead, who was the chief marketing officer for the project and played a key role in getting it built and paid for.
In photos I’d only seen the sculpture of Dr. King but the memorial is much larger. Significantly so. Huge walls on either side displayed some of his more memorable quotes.
I paused to read the ones on my approach to the sculpture. I looked at my husband, shaking my head.
How far have we really gotten since his assassination? How much progress has been made?
Some would say precious little. Oh, sure, lynchings are few and far between today.
But just that morning I’d seen a replay of now imprisoned former officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on various necks. Killing George Floyd. Injuring others. His knee was on one victim for 15 minutes.
Do you know how long that is? A damn long time.
An eternity to someone whose neck is being crushed.
How can you breathe?
It’s a wonder that victim didn’t die. But others did.
Make no mistake: That kind of police brutality? It’s the 21st century version of lynching.
So how far have we gotten since the activism of the late 1960s?
Nowhere. That’s how far.
All those protests?
In the end they were full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, as MacBeth said.
The back of the sculpture of Dr. King reads :
“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
I think we’d come a lot further than we are now, now we’re going backwards. I just heard a tape (made surreptitiously) of an Oklahoma sheriff wishing he could still hang black people. He even said something about them now having more rights than “we” do. Makes me sick.
I truly thought we’d come further but any person of color will say we have not. Yes, that makes me sick, also.
Now that we have the horrific case of Ralph Yarl, whose crime was knocking at the wrong door while Black, and (surprise!) the homeowner who saw a black teen at his door and fired two shots into him was initially released and only arrested because of public outrage – several days later. And, that recording in Oklahoma,so chilling. I thought, also, we had come further.
Every day something. Every day.
We’ve come further in some areas, back-slid in others, and never moved an inch in many more. “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” I’ve never heard that quote. We must carry on in the quarry of despair.
i don’t like marching in place or going backwards, though