“The heroism of the march, the drama of the confrontation, became in their minds the total accomplishment. It is true that the elements have meaning, but to ignore the concrete end specific gains in dismantling the structure of segregation is like noticing the beauty of the rain, but failing to see that it has enriched the soil”
By Mark Columbus Orgu, June 15-30,2020, News/Comments
It was the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi,Rajmohan, in 1968, wrote, in the course of a book foreword, titled, Africa’s Hour, and Other Speeches, written by Peter Howard , where he described the author, Peter Howard, as a man who fought racism and wanted a free society where all are seen as the same descendants from God. His words: “Peter Howard, was the comrade of any man anywhere, who fought for a hate-free, fear-free, and greed-free world. He wrote and uttered his stirring words in the belief and knowledge that African men and women, and Asian, Europeans, Americans, all, would rise up as he rose, and establish a society that went away beyond communism, ant-communism, racism and revenge”
After 52 years, the whole world, both black and white defiled all entreaties to agitate for a huge free society where both the black and white are treated equally and throw away the notion of coloured skill. Now, . What colour is God’s skill, black, white, brown, yellow and red, no one can tell. So, it is foolish to discriminate and feel super in colour whether white, red or black.
The recent uprising in America over the killing of a black citizen, George Floyd by a Police officer in a most animalistic manner, has opened another chapter of the discussion whether the immortal Martin King Jr. actually defeated racism or not. This is for revolutionaries to ascertain or political and social analysts to ponder. King Jr’s One million matches can never be in vain, yes, never. !!! When he addressed the crowd, he didn’t just say, “I have a dream”, but a dream in progress and indeed freedom for the oppressed, not just only for the blacks but all-inclusiveness. Indeed, King Jr. opined that there can be no doubt , even in the true depth of the most prejudiced minds, that the August 28 March on Washington was the most significant and moving demonstration for freedom and justice in all the history of this country.
His address (Selected)
In the summer of 1963 a great shout for freedom reverberated across the land. It was a shout from the hearts of a people who had been too patient, too long. It was a shout which arose from the North and the south. It was a shout which reached the ears of the President and stirred him to unprecedented statesmanship. It was a shout which reached the halls of Congress and brought back to the Legislative Chambers a resumption of the Great Debate. It was a shout which awoke the consciences of millions of white Americans and caused them to examine themselves and to consider the plight of twenty million black disinherited brothers. It was a shout which brought men of God down out of their pulpits, where they had been preaching only Sunday kind of love, out into streets to practice a Monday kind of militancy. Twenty million strong, militant, marching blacks, flanked by legions of white allies, were volunteers in an army which had a will and a purpose-the realization of a new and glorious freedom.
The shout burst into the open in Birmingham. The contagion of the will to be free, the spreading virus of the victory which was proven possible when black people stood and marched together with love in their hearts instead of hate, faith instead of fear,-the virus spread from Birmingham across the land and a summer of blazing discontent gave promise of a glorious autumn of racial justice. The Negros revolution was at hand.
Birminghan had made it clear that the fight of Negros could be won if he moved that fight out to the sidewalks and the streets down to the city halls and the city jails and –If necessary-into the martyred heroism of a Medgar Evers. The Negros revolution had come of age. It was matured. It was courageous. It was epic-and it was in American tradition, a much delayed salute to the Bill of Rights, the declaration of Independence, the constitution and the emancipation of proclaimation
Seen in perspective, the summer of 1963 was historic because it witnessed the first offensive in history launched by Negroes along a broad front. The heroic but spasmodic and isolated slave revolts of the Antebellum South had fused, more than a century later, into a simultaneous, massive assaults against segregation. And the virtues so long regarded as the exclusive property of the white South-gallantry, loyalty, and pride-had passed to the Negro demonstrators in the heat of the summer’s battles.
In assessing the summer’s event, some observers have tended to diminish the achievement by treating the demonstrations as an end in themselves. The heroism of the march, the drama of the confrontation, became in their minds the total accomplishment. It is true that the elements have meaning, but to ignore the concrete end specific gains in dismantling the structure of segregation is like noticing the beauty of the rain, but failing to see that it has enriched the soil. A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and Institution is a revolution
The summer of 1963 was a revolution because it changes the face of America. Freedom was contagious. Its fever boiled in nearly one thousand cities, and by the time it had passed its peak, many thousands of lunch countries, hotels, parks, and other places of public accommodation had become integrated.
The sound of the explosion in Birhmingham reached all the way to Washington, where the Kennedy administration, which had firmly declared that civil rights legislation would have to be shelved for 1963, hastily reorganized its priorities and placed a strong civil rights bill at the top of the Congressional calendar.
King Jr’s creed on freedom
…America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire:
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York
Let Freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California, but not only that
Let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it to ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God‘s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual “Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last”
Culled from The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr, edited by Clayborne Carson.
Mark C. Orgu, is the Author, Nigeria in the Global Perspective, A Divergent Pragmatic Compilation of Thoughts on Nigeria, wrote from Lagos.