Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Black history should be annotated as Pre and Post Martin Luther King Jr. Before MLK, we were Colored, Negro and often boys, girls apes, coons, baboons, jigaboos and n****rs and lynched, murdered and bombed. After MLK we slowly became African American. I, personally, am Black. I resist being African American because it still looks, feels and quacks like 3/5 American.  But since MLK was able to get race on a “Visible National Stage” we have continued to evolve, to become more human albeit not more likable until recently.

The 60’s were an incredible time. There is significance in it being 100 years after the Civil War. What should have been peace and prosperity was cold war, McCarthyism, Korea, Viet Nam, J. Edger Hoover and chickens coming home to roost. In the midst of it all Martin Luther King Jr. stood for Civil Rights which really should be read “HUMAN RIGHTS”. MLK starts with dignity for the formerly enslaved but soon encompasses the poor, the downtrodden and the immigrants identified on the Statue of Liberty.

Nobody likes a reformer but everyone appreciates one when reform is proved. We have yet to perfect it. Today’s headlines are filled with Civil Rights or do you believe sexual harassment is about something else. It’s the other side of the same problem. Someone out there with money, power and influence doesn’t value you for who you are or takes advantage of the status they impose upon you. So, it has taken 50 years to get sexual lynching and reverse castration out in the open. It is one step closer to Civil Rights/Human Rights in America. I continue and will always applaud Martin Luther King Jr. for getting the conversation and movement unstuck and started in my lifetime.

Ruby Bridges

Mrs. Rosenthal

“We need to teach the entire spectrum of Black history, not facially connected highs and lows. We must teach and learn how to deal with pain and how to develop paths to progress.” – CZV

I giggled with some of the other 6th-grade boys when red-headed and nailed Mrs. Rosenthal pledged, hand on her collarbone. She couldn’t place it over her heart without cupped distortion. Mr. Webber, memorizing faces, quickly quieted us down. The consequence would be whacks with a ruler and a call to our mothers otherwise. Our class was special today. We were performing a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. I would recite an excerpt from his I Have a Dream Speech at the podium. My mother didn’t come. She never did. Who knew MLK would be murdered two years later.

Tightrope: pictured-Ruby Bridges protected by Federal Agents spent her first year in an integrated school in a class by herself taught by a new teacher because everyone else in the school refused.

Jesus Aint Say Nothin

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”  – Martin Luther King Jr.

Lawd, I dont know nothin bout my man
but I got dis post card
him burnt
swung from a rope
didn need no hoods
men in straw hats done it
dey kids eatin treats
dey women most vocal
dey said he tried to teech them
wernt neva true
He done gone to the sto
to ask why Mista riled me
I neva told what Mista did
neva told bout the other men
neva told the yung boy do it too
all the while deys tellin him
this is how you treat dem niggas
dis your first boy
sweet meat
keeps dem in dey place
all the time, the judge sittin there
playin checkers with Mr. Jeff
I told him it wernt nothin
told him not to go
told him we had vittles
wernt no need to go
so now I got dis mail card
card say shut up or you next
nigga bitch
him dead and Mista holdin the burn wood
dey sold pieces of dat wood for a nickel
when it got cool nuf to handle
I was gonna burn dat dress
torn with blood on it
but he’d seen it for I could
I asked the Lawd not to let him go
but Jesus aint say nothin
he ain’t neva had no pride
not bout work
or chilren or nothin
the ax handle be broke
but some hell fire flare up dat day
when he saw my broom jumpin dress
ripped and bloody like I was
he slaved to buy dat dress
all dem Sundays without gods words
I thought he throw it in
when the white preacher beat him
for not stackin the wood proper
but he bought dat dress
nothin left for the coolin’ board
dey wont let me have him no way
Dey say he hang there
till his nigger meat fall off
All I ken do is bury dis dress
say some words over it
and move on.

– CZVasser