We have a beautiful
We have a beautiful
We have a beautiful
the white stones
at the edge
of the water
We have a beautiful
Her green lap
Her brown embrace
Her blue body
everything we know.
Coretta Scott King: “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” – King Family Press Conference, Dec. 9, 1999.
How many Americans know that in 1999 a jury in a civil suit brought by the family of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided that a retired Memphis cafe owner was part of a conspiracy in the 1968 killing of Dr. King? How many Americans know that more than one governmental agency was also implicated in the shooting? In fact, the legal team representing the King family presented the following startling revelations :
After four weeks of testimony and one hour of deliberation, the jury in the wrongful-death case found that Loyd Jowers as well as ”others, including governmental agencies” had been part of a conspiracy. The jury awarded the King family the damages they had sought: $100, which the family donated to charity.
The NYT reported that the King family had long questioned Mr. Ray’s conviction and hoped the suit would change the legal and historical record of the assassination.”This is a vindication for us,” said Dexter King, the youngest son of Dr. King.
And what about James Earl Ray? After being transferred from a maximum security prison hospital he died at the Columbia Nashville Memorial Hospital in Nashville on April 23, 1998, at the age of 70, from complications related to Kidney disease and liver failure caused by hepatitis C. Ray was cremated and his ashes were flown to Ireland, the home of his family’s ancestors. Ten years later, Ray’s other brother, John Larry Ray, co-authored a book with Lyndon Barsten, titled Truth At Last: The Untold Story Behind James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. revealing what the former author knew about the assassination.
There can be no peace without justice. Until the nation is able to come to terms with the facts of MLK’s assassination, we will not be able to honor his legacy appropriately. Service projects are wonderful. Candlelight vigils are beautiful. Concerts and fundraisers are inspiring. I am sure that Dr. King would be pleased with all of these positive actions to help build the “Beloved Community.” However, until we are able to come to terms with the real circumstances of his murder our society will not be capable of meeting its most difficult challenges. For what kind of democracy allows its military to openly take out one of the nation’s most respected leaders without any justification whatsoever?
MLK once said: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
So do I. One of the ways that unarmed truth will have the final word is if we refuse to accept the manufactured version of what happened on April 4, 1968 in Memphis. Until this unthinkable crime against humanity is finally unmasked for being a political assassination ordered at the highest levels of our government, the starless midnight of racism and war will continue to engulf King’s dream in an empty chasm of hopeless darkness.
By George Cassidy Payne with Gandhi Earth Keepers International
The great poet and novelist Alice Walker once said that “activism is the rent we pay for living on the planet.” Speaking as a white American male who is able minded, non-handicapped, heterosexual, English speaking, Christian raised, university educated, and endowed with birthright citizenship, I think I know exactly what Walker means.
My position on this planet is both a blessing and a burden. I am blessed because I have been granted every conceivable privilege under the sun. I am burdened because my privilege has far too often come at the expense of my fellow brothers and sisters just trying to survive with dignity. For instance, my maleness has silenced women. My whiteness has threatened people of color. My citizenship has justified genocide. My “able” body has contributed to the perception of disability in others. My education has helped to support a global caste system. My English language has drowned out the voices of other dialects and muted the songs of other cultures. My heterosexuality has become a violent norm in the eyes of the LGBQT community; and my religion has been a source of persecution for Jews and Muslims alike.
When I honestly reflect on my life being both a blessing and a burden, it occurs to me that in so many ways I represent what is wrong with the world. I am the one who needs to be reformed. It is my citizenship that is corrupting the health of families and endangering the sacredness of the nation. It is my sexual orientation which is contorting and disfiguring the meaning of love. It is my religion which is rotten with fundamentalism. It is my skin tone which needs purification. And it is my education which is making the human race sick with ignorance.
For these reasons I view my activism as the price I must pay to not only live on the planet but to live with the planet. In other words, if I don’t fight for women, I am against women. If I don’t fight racism, I am a racist. If I don’t fight nationalism, I am a terrorist. If I don’t fight elitism, I am a tyrant. If I don’t fight homophobia, I am a homophobic. If I don’t fight Christian triumphalism, I am a Christ killer. In the esteemed and humane words of Archbishop Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
It is really that simple. I need to be an activist because I can’t afford to waste the gifts that I have been given sitting on the sidelines of social and spiritual conflict. There is actually no sideline to sit on. We are all playing the game. What matters is which side you choose to be on.