Good Afternoon, readers! Lens of The People is a column dedicated to the capture of the real-life scenarios and events of the local Houston area whilst also giving the thoughts and opinions of the Houston community itself its own voice to speak through.
Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most well-known civil rights activists of all time, and was born on January 15th, in 1929. This year, we approach that same day, which would serve as his 90th birthday if he were still alive. In light of this, I’ve taken to contemplating what life would be like for the Black community if he were still alive. We’ve witnessed many social changes both worldwide and within our own racial community, yet there are still many who believe that we are in dire need of a leader of sorts for the Black community who speaks for us and only us. That being said, that is precisely what I asked the African American Houston community. “Do you feel that with society the way it is today, that the Black community would still benefit from someone like Martin Luther King Jr.?”
“I think that we would benefit from a Martin Luther King Jr. around, but I think it was more beneficial that he came at the time that he did, to ensure that we had at least a better day today. So where we stand today is stronger and we are a more defined unit because he was around before.”-Wendell King
“I feel like In TODAY’s world with everything that’s going on, especially with the ‘president’, we need either an MLK or a Malcolm X. But on the topic of MLK and to answer the question, yes. Because he would give us more knowledge to do better and fight for what we want more and to be more powerful with our words.”-Vik Hargrove
“I think seeing as towards the end of his life he changed his views, he wouldn’t be very accepted but instead treated as someone that is divisive. I think seeing a figure that has learned over time and evolved would be great for this generation but our society wouldn’t like his newer more radical views.” -Janae Rixner
“Yes, I believe we would. Back then, MLK stood as a leader of the Black people. He was a person who knew and understood the struggles of the Black community and he gave, I would say, instructions as to how to handle things and go about making ourselves heard. If the Black community had such a person, there wouldn’t be as much chaos. With everything going on in this day and age, having someone like MLK would give us hope. There would be a sense of orderliness in that we won’t just be rash with our actions and decisions. I believe things would be better with someone like MLK in our midst to lead us in the right direction.” -Ibidolapo Okedara
“If we had MLK here today a few things might’ve changed but the threat would remain the same, but we would just have a secret strength with him here. Even with him gone he still remains a powerful voice against injustice and equality, with many people following his word to this day. MLK’s goals extended beyond civil rights, and if he was still here maybe more could be accomplished with him as the backbone for the MLK’s of today. The way he understood civil rights to the point he wanted to include the entire nation, is something we’re still fighting for today. Maybe a little more would be accomplished, maybe more bills could be passed, and maybe more people would be less afraid to live. Then again, if he was here today we couldn’t just leave it all on him. Of course, he would be a very strong ally, but one person can’t change the world. It would take all of us, and I think if he was here today we’d be a bit further in the push for equality.” -Ardonnay Johnson
I don’t believe that the Black community would benefit from someone like Martin Luther King Jr. in the way that many within our community would want to. Many people idolize the idea of a Black leader because they simply want someone who’s always doing things in their best interest. And while this isn’t an inherently flawed way of thinking, I believe that many see a Black leader subconsciously as someone who thinks and acts for us so that we don’t have to and that all we have to do is show up to some marches and echo whatever views they’ve presented us with. I, for one believe, not in leaders, but in examples. I think that the reason we as a community struggle to move forward without someone such as Martin Luther King Jr. or even Malcolm X is because those two individuals knew that they were in fact individuals. And while they both spoke for the Black community, they knew that they were not the community in its entirety, nor was that the only thing that made them who they were, which is a truth I feel that many of us miss. I also don’t believe that the Black community’s internal and external problems are so simple that they can be fixed or even rationalized by one Black man or woman on their own. So no, I don’t believe that the Black community in its current state would benefit from “someone” like Martin Luther King Jr., resigning to simply follow in the back lines, but that the way to make true progress is to encourage individuals to speak for themselves and challenge the ideas we’ve already established as synonymous with the Black community in order to make a greater one that thrives on the ideas of both the few and the many, the loud and the silent.
This was Lens of The People, a column dedicated to giving the Houston community a voice and a platform. Stay on the lookout for more, all made possible by The Forward Times!