Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. and my March on Washington or lack thereof

Well  yet another year and another reason to go to Washington DC and I still haven’t made it there. In fact I don’t think that I’ve been to that city in about 15 years, so I haven’t seen the Dr Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.

I had thought about going to see the memorial when it was going to be officially opened in August of last year, but if I remember correctly, there was a hurricane expected and it was called off. When it was finally opened by the President in October, I thought I would go on Martin Luther King Day this year instead but I’ve missed that too. And yet somehow I still don’t feel bad about not seeing it in person. It’s not that I have any disrespect for the man or the cause or the beliefs and reasons behind the monument, but I’ve seen pictures of the thing and I just can’t seem to get enthused enough to make the trek.

President Obama and the First Family visit memorial

Now don’t get me wrong I’m sure one day I’ll make the trip, but right now I’m feeling too damned old to stand in the cold staring up at a humongous mass of granite while I pretend to look all tranquil and at peace with the world. From what I understand the monument is near or just off of the Tidal Basin and with just one good breeze blowing off the water and wrapping itself around my legs I would probably start cursing. Even if it was only in my mind, it would be some sort resentful diatribe against me, my parents and the good reverend’s family for making it all possible because you know black people don’t like cold and I’m no exception.

Plus from the pictures that I’ve seen the statue itself gives off that Soviet era Stalinist kind of vibe that you get of the arrogance of a “great man” emerging from the stone to defeat the oppressors of the people. Of course he was a great man and he and many others did much to defeat the ways of many who were against Civil Rights for all, but from what I understand this might not have been the way that he would have wanted to himself portrayed.

I only say this because the poet Maya Angelou complained about an inscription on the memorial that is a misquoted paraphrase of what Dr. King said, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” She said, “The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit. He was anything but that. He was far too profound a man for that four-letter word to apply.” Would then such a man want to be symbolized by a larger than life representation that leans more to the industrial might of his nation’s gratitude or the quiet certitude of his own convictions?

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find out during my next scheduled trip in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom in DC and the chill has gone from the air. Who’s with me?


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