This entry is starting in the middle. Then again, the world was already in motion when I arrived. . . .

Everything King said and did stemmed from the fact that he was black and wanted to improve the lives of blacks. At the same time, he was not anti-white. All of his philosophy and theology—yes, he held a PhD—dealt with race. At the same time, he was Christian. In fact, he always believed he was “first and foremost a preacher,” and that was how he served humanity.

King believed in non-violence as a way of life (not just a strategy to accomplish given goals as some in the civil rights movement did), which is why he did not abandon nonviolence as his popularity waned. King became more radical in thought as he aged. And he became more prophetic.

For a person to pluck from one of King’s speeches, a word such as “colorblind” and use it to claim King is the same logic people use when they proof-text the Bible and select verses to support a preconceived view, rather than approaching the Bible to learn God’s view.

King was prolific. He wrote books, sermons, speeches, and magazine articles. He left us a lot of material from which to draw and fortunately most of it has been preserved. Yet it is a perversion and a misunderstanding of this man to use his words to declare that we have arrived at the summit of his “dream.” If one wants to know if blacks have “equality,” which is what King was working toward, he/she might ask a cross section of black people. Racism in America stemmed from slavery* and has nothing to do with how people were treated in the former Soviet Union under communism, as one man suggested in a comment (on Bookworm Room).

This post began because Bookworm objected to black children saying people should vote for Obama because he’s black, saying “racism starts young.” Bookworm wants her children to learn critical thinking. I can see where she’s coming from. Obama is not my candidate of choice either but for a different reason. Yet race should not be a litmus test any more than abortion ought to be. There are other issues to be considered. Domestic and foreign policy and economics matter. How we treat the poor. Taxes.

But perhaps people are confusing “racism” with ignorance. What children say often reflects what their parents believe. Sometimes the children get it wrong. Sometimes they speak exactly what they have heard. Racism is alive and well in the US, but it is by no means the only kind of ignorance we have. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowing. I hope to add a clear voice to what King said and taught. Understanding King can be done only by reading primary sources in their entirety. Otherwise, we often get the speaker’s view with supporting quotes from King amid ignorant cries of “reverse racism” and other racist myths that are rearing their ugly heads under politically correct rhetoric and a sentiment that King’s prophecy had an expiration date instead of him being martyred.

I am posting each day this month various pieces of black history. Black history is American history from a black point of view. For purposes of education, I will be posting the primary sources (works by King) on my blog tomorrow. The King Project is busy locating, organizing, and categorizing King’s works into what will be a fourteen-volume set upon completion. King was a great man. Let us refrain from perverting his message of equality.

Parts of this entry will be cross-posted at Bookworm Room.

* Edit: As Eric pointed out (see comment) this should have read: Racism in this country began in slavery. Racism was the root cause of slavery not vice versa. My original statement is confusing about that fact.