From MLK to Kaepernick, Black Pursuit of Justice Continues to Incite White Anger and Resentment

Photo Credit: National Park Service, Cecilia Arteaga, Public Domain

Excellent opinion piece by Jason Sokol. It explores, using Martin Luther King, Jr. as an anchor point, the manner in which white America reacts to Black demands for justice, and segues into how Colin Kaepernick is being treated today for also making such demands.  Whites consistently speak about MLK in glowing terms and often use his legacy to attempt to silence Black criticism of racism; but we know that MLK was assassinated, and his widow Coretta Scott King won a civil lawsuit demonstrating that local, state, and federal high level officials were involved in the murder.  Kaepernick ‘s continuing legacy deserves protection and preservation independent of white approval or validation. 

Because Martin Luther King Jr. now stands as an exalted hero of American history, we tend to assume that his assassination 50 years ago was experienced as a national tragedy. Yet in the days and weeks after his death on April 4, 1968, Americans not only mourned and grieved but also seethed and raged.

President Lyndon Johnson designated April 7, Palm Sunday that year, as a national day of mourning. On April 9, 120 million people watched King’s funeral on television. But Americans were not unified by a collective grief. Some whites were incredulous at the president’s proclamation and marveled that ministers would deliver eulogies for a man they considered a communist agitator; others even celebrated King’s death.

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