What’s a King to a Non-Believer? The Argument Against the MLK Monument

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This week has been crazy. We had an earthquake in the Northeast, followed by a Hurricane and the worst of it all, pictures of Kreyshawns stick figure titties corrupting my network connection! Throughout these trials and tribulations, we were treated to a special event: the dedication ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. monument in Washington D.C. This man countenance shines bright amongst the forefathers of this nation, yet it was met with controversy. Now the obvious one was the complaint that he’s not a President, so why should he have a monument (translation: hatehatehate),but I was shocked at other claims. I was also shocked that some blacks were leading the criticism.

Some people feel that having a National holiday is enough. That he isn’t a president, so why give him that much shine. I say he has every right to be on the National Mall with other edifices dedicated to Past Presidents. I wouldn’t say that those monuments are reserved for Presidents, but for Americans whose actions changed the course of the country. George Washington, the leader of the revolution, and our First President. Abraham Lincoln, the President who helped unify a divided nation after civil war, and signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery. Now you have MLK, the most prominent member and catalyst of the civil rights movement.

The man who practiced non violence in his protests, endured ridicule from his own and others, died fighting a war not with another nation, but against an ideal of Racism and inequality. The man who sat in a Birmingham Alabama jail, and wrote his passion and hopes down in his now famous letter. He marched on Selma, and Washington, and demanded that we finally live up to the preamble of the Constitution both in fact and appearance! His bravery and galvanizing spirit created one of the most significant paradigm shifts in American History. He had a dream, and while we never want to make dreams our master, he instead chose to make dreams a tangible reality. There would be no Barack Obama, or the idea that we could have a Non white male as president if it wasn’t for MLK! I think that makes him more than worthy of the honor of a monument in his place.

Some people say that Martin wouldn’t have wanted a monument if he were alive today. Well first off you’d have to be pretty narcissistic if you demanded a monument or statue to yourself while you lived (no shots at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). I don’t think he would want a monument either. When your nation or any organization chooses to honor you, they usually just do it, and they don’t consult you. Think about how many soldiers get purple hearts, or medals of honor. They probably don’t want all the press either, but they will get the accolade nonetheless, because someone felt that you should be saluted for your efforts, and wants to bring light to your accomplishments. So Dr King, who didn’t seem like the type of brother hell bent on receiving personal shine, wouldn’t have wanted a monument most likely. That is a testament to his character. Similar to Washington, and Lincoln, and countless others, we give him one because those accomplishments and his sacrifice should forever be enshrined for all to see and never forget.

Some say that these efforts to build the monument were politically driven. Do you know that this movement was actually started by the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated:the first intercollegiate fraternity established for Black men? My fraternity saw the opportunity to make this happen, got the grassroots movement to congress, the order signed by Pres. Reagan, and 15+ years later we are here. So the movement was far from “political” or politically driven. You can check the BET special on MLK and his connection to Alpha Phi Alpha by watching the documentary HERE!

Others say that we shouldn’t be building a monument to Dr King, when blacks still haven’t overcome all these years later. “Oh blacks are still impoverished and oppressed, but we have a monument for MLK though!!” This is bullshit. Plain and simple. First of all, why isn’t there, or why hasn’t there been, the same kind of uproar whenever a MLK school, highway, or street has been dedicated in his honor? Secondly, to say that we shouldn’t have a monument to him, when blacks are in bad shape in this country, diminishes everything that he and other civil rights movement leaders did accomplish!

We were segregated once upon a time. We were openly looked at as subhuman, second class citizens. Any black person in a position of power or wealth was the exceptions, not the norm. Many people gave their lives so we could be in a better position.  Look at America now, with all our economic and political issues. You think Washington and Lincoln should still have monuments too? We can make the case for demolishing all types of honor based edifices because we haven’t done as well as the ideals say we should. This is where people miss the point. Monuments like the ones in DC stand to give hope.

They stand to remember a tumultuous time in our existence. They were erected to honor those individuals who rose above the challenges of their era, and created a chance in this country. See history at times, is like an infinite loop. We suffer tragedies, strife, poverty, injustice, and all other issues that our predecessors faced. Some people can learn from history, and some will be the doomed to repeat it.

We may give up hope, or think that we can never overcome. Then, we gaze upon these monuments, like the one made for Dr King, and reflect on more difficult times. We see the look on a young child’s face, as they read the words etched in stone with Martins words of hope. We see them ask questions and show pride in what they see, and then it hits you. Years ago, people would’ve laughed in your face, people of all races, if you told them that a black man would be honored with a monument in DC alongside Presidents.

The same way we laughed at an idea of integrated schools, blacks voting, and a black president. Life isn’t perfect and we still struggle with a LOT in the black community. We still have a ways to go, but there’s nothing like a symbol of hope to motivate you to be better. Symbols like our parents, teachers, and those who we see from afar, striving for excellence. Martin Luther King Jr. will forever be that symbol for us, and this monument is just another reminder that dreams can become reality.

Today is the day! If you’re in NYC, come join us at the SBM Happy Hour at the Empire Room in the Empire State Building from 6-10pm. In addition to the SBM staff, some of your favorite commenters and bloggers will be there kicking it with us for the night. Should be a good time and look forward to seeing you there!

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  • QueenT

    I thought he should have had a memorial on that site a long time ago..that civil rights march went down in history….let's face it MLK is the most famous black man in history…he stood for all this is good and just…so, he deserves a monument in DC most definitely..and anywhere else they can get the money together to put a monument….in my humble opinion. I can't wait to take my kids to see it…it's going to be a teaching moment for me…and I am sure very emotional as well.

  • http://twitter.com/itztrizz617 herbetteroption (@itztrizz617)

    *cues T.I.’s I’ma King instrumental*

    I would understand if it was Malcolm X (perhaps too real) or Obama (still got a huge to-do list) but theres almost no reason for MLK NOT to have a memorial especially since almost every MLK Blvd or MLK school is ironically ratchet. i think the problems come later when gays, women, latino, asians suddenly want “their” monument in Washington.

    • Smilez_920

      i think the problems come later when gays, women, latino, asians suddenly want “their” monument in Washington

      lol True but until those groups have over 50 streets, blvd and schools named after them they cant fill out the application for a monument.

      when blacks still haven’t overcome all these years later. “Oh blacks are still impoverished and oppressed, but we have a monument for MLK though!!” This is bullshit. Plain and simple.

      Real BS. So because some black people haven’t prospered whether it’s due to societies/economic disparity (not their fault) or because they just can’t get their ish together (their fault) the black people who are trying to make a difference or a change for the better can’t have a MLK statue. Damn let my man MLK live he deserves a statue like anyone of the presidents on that monument.

    • http://codecipher.blogspot.com MeteorMan

      i think the problems come later when gays, women, latino, asians suddenly want "their" monument in Washington.

      Kinda short sighted… This implies that the MLK monument is strictly "our" monument. Even though most of use will look at it that way, NOPE. He marched not just for civil rights for blacks, it was civil rights -> period. Which includes combating against discrimination due to not only race, but also sexual orientation and gender.
      My recent post How to implement an OODBS (pt. 1)

      • http://www.twitter.com/prettykeety prettykeety

        Hmm…I see where you're going here and I like it…and I wish I agreed 100%.

        I have a hard time believing MLK would have been marching for gay marriage. I think his methods and methodology were at least partially, if not primarily, religiously driven. I can't see him publicly supporting civil liberties for a cause that conflicts with his religious virtues (mind you he was still a Baptist minister.) I think like Obama, he would remain somewhat non-commital to the cause, empathetic but not enough to act and cause a stir.

        But I'm glad he's not here to prove me right or wrong. The battle he fought had a clear moral objective, and thankfully his efforts proved fruitful. I think the monument is well deserved.

        • http://codecipher.blogspot.com MeteorMan

          I can roll with that. Not saying we would've made a guess appearance in a Gay parade… But I'm sure he wouldn't have been like "eff them." I would like to think MLK was a reasonable guy. B/c he was a minister, doesn't mean he had tunnel vision. He would've expressed that he thought homosexuality was a sin, but would also say that it's in their civil rights to believe what they want which may include approaching homosexuality differently than Christians. I can't put words in him mouth though…
          My recent post How to implement an OODBS (pt. 1)

        • http://codecipher.blogspot.com MeteorMan

          "guess" tho?! ( ._.)
          My recent post How to implement an OODBS (pt. 1)

        • starita34

          LMAO
          #BlameYourPhone

        • CHeeKZ

          I am going to co-sign Meteor.

          Mrs Coretta actually said her husband would have been pro gay rights. The King foundation actually has programs against homophobia, but of course those are people trying to interpret the man's vision, not the man himself.

        • http://www.twitter.com/prettykeety prettykeety

          The man impresses me even from beyond the grave. I didn't know that.
          My recent post prettykeety: #iadmit i'm kinda upset about Cam Newton goin pro, I wanted to see another season like last year's

        • Dr. J

          Nah, King wouldn't have. He would have supported from behind the scenes. Back in the day, Christians had backbones and if they really believed in the Bible when it said homosexuality was a sin, then it was a sin. King wasn't marching for the civil rights of murderers, then he certainly wouldn't march the rights of a homosexual. No shots at King, but that's just where he stood.

          Important historic fact, the man behind the SCLC, the organization that propelled MLK to national recognition, was Bayard Rustin. Bayard should have been selected as President, but many of the leaders at the time thought it wouldn't be appropriate for Bayard to be the face of the Civil Rights movement since he was an openly gay man. Therefore, King was selected. Bayard was actually the one who put MLK onto Gandhi, ironically. Go back and check that out. That's a true story. I think that in 2011, King would have marched for gay rights, but in 1960, hell no he won't go.

      • http://twitter.com/itztrizz617 herbetteroption (@itztrizz617)

        I agree fully but at the same time i can see it being labeled as a “black” monument

        • http://codecipher.blogspot.com MeteorMan

          Yeah. I can see that too. I can't assert how people who are discriminated against in ways other than racially would view it, except the fact that they like to quote MLK and use him as a reference point when explaining their views. He's the primary symbol for civil rights.
          My recent post How to implement an OODBS (pt. 1)

    • http://codecipher.blogspot.com MeteorMan

      that was supposed to be a "thumbs up"

      CTRL-Z!!!
      My recent post How to implement an OODBS (pt. 1)

  • http://panamaenrique.wordpress.com Malik

    Thought this was going to be a completely different topic. I don't care about Martin Luther King, Jr. getting a monument. It's DC, that's why the tourists constantly go there.

  • Most

    MLK is my dude… and Ima let you finish but… I'm really excited for tonight's happy hour!!!! If you're in the NYC area you should definitely be there.

    My recent post That Certain Something “Watch The Throne” is Missing

    • starita34

      http://bit.ly/qqzWar
      ;-)

      Ya'll have fun, SOMEONE take a pic or two, will ya?

    • cynicaloptmst81

      I wish I could've come. But, there was no way in the world I could travel to NY from MD on a Wednesday during the first week of school, lol…smh.

      I can't stand people with no kids. Y'all make me sick, lol.. j/k…kinda…lol

      • starita34

        I feel ya girl, I feel ya. Here you go http://bit.ly/qNEDC2

      • krystllyght

        They make me sick too!

    • Streetz
  • Eddie_Brock

    I really wanted to be there for that ceremony last weekend, but apparently #Irene had other plans for those of us in the Mid-A. I plan to visit this weekend and snag a few pics, which is rare for me since I live here and hardly ever do the "tourist" thing.
    I've heard the criticisms about the monument and most of them border on insane. I heard that one group complained because he looked too serious and too stoic. 0_o Really? What'd people expect him to be doing throwing gang signs or hitting his dougie?

    • WAChick

      Eddie_Brock, I haven't seen you on here in a while! I'm not a regular commenter myself, but IJS.

    • Teflon Mom

      *Waves at Eddie*

      Hiiiiii Eddie! I will surely be taking the twins to see the memorial. And we'll go again once they're old enough to remember it!

    • Eddie_Brock

      *waves at Teflon and WAChick* to quote the eloquent Ms. PinchMyCheekie, I've been busier dinnah mug lately. No time for anything other than lurking in the Black blogosphere these days. But since this one was kinda important…. #amberroseshrugs

    • cynicaloptmst81

      "What'd people expect him to be doing throwing gang signs or hitting his dougie?"

      OK…why did I get visuals when I read that, LMBO!

  • CHeeKZ

    MLK is like the shinning light in my life. Whenever I get lost on an issue or direction in life, I seriously think to myself, well what would Martin do. One of the most influential men in history. Far from flawless, and way more controversial than people are willing to give him credit for. Our history books really only tell the Disney version of Martin's life.

    This is one of the most impressive accomplishments I can remember. Right up there with the creation of facebook and the bulls 72-10 season. This is like one of my life goals, to create something that lives forever.

    *cough* *cough*
    and I give props to the greeks who got this accomplished. #Nosarcasm.

  • krystllyght

    I didn't even know people were against it. I will admit that I didn't like the arms crossed but like Eddie said upwards what's he supposed to be doing? A dougie would've been funny. I understand that body language though and I'm sure there is some symbolism to it appearing unfinished but I can't complain unless I was about to go build a better one. Whatever, that monument should be there and one day I plan to visit it.

    • http://twitter.com/itztrizz617 herbetteroption (@itztrizz617)

      I would’ve went with a hand out like he’s giving the I Have a Dream speech or seated in a thinking pose but im not chinese sculptor being in historic ass Boston im kinda numb to tourist attractions but i will find a reason to go one day *emails my little brother a Howard University brochure*

  • Teflon Mom

    I'm out of touch, because I've missed the hating on the Dr. King memorial. My family will visit. It's a Human Thing, some others wouldn't understand. But they want us to understand statues and memorials to Confederate generals. GTFOOHWTBS. Irene threw a monkey wrench in the plans, but one monkey don't stop no show. We'll be visiting, several times over. Thank you Alphas. My daddy was an Alpha, and I guar-on-tee that if he was still alive he would've had our whole fam out there with some raincoats on, lol. Love the post!

  • redlady821

    I too missed that hate on the Dr. King memorial but I'm glad that it's there (the memorial) and I'm also glad that it's located in D.C. I mean, why would anyone hate on…nevermind, some people will find a reason to hate on anything and show more passion about Chris Brown flying through the air at the VMA's than a statue of MLK. It's just a cross that we have to bear I suppose and how some of our people carry themselves.

  • Rock

    Next weekend….The Nations Classic…I'm slightly anticipating seeing this monument more than I am about the parties and the tailgate. Morehouse stand up!!!

  • http://www.therealslimjackson.com Slim Jackson

    Good post on an issue that some folks may have missed. And because I'm gitty as sh*t, Happy Hour tonight!
    My recent post 5 Things I Learned From Chicken Titties and Dove Soap

    • CHeeKZ Money

      peopel are going hard for the happy hour

  • nianaturally

    People are crazy in this country. There are some who can find any reason to oppose anything. Just being negative for the sake of negativity. Why wouldn't you want to honor a man who's true legacy may never be known or understood because the he's been white washed in the history books, and people don't read non-fiction after they graduate from high school. Its incredibly disappointing to hear the opposition. But, you know what they say… Haters gonna hate. Anyway, I can't wait to see it.

    I wonder if the tea party knows Reagan was a part of this, and not Clinton or Prez Obama…

    • starita34

      I wonder if the tea party knows Reagan was a part of this, and not Clinton or Prez Obama…

      No.
      And if you ever find yourself wondering again "I wonder if the tea party knows … " just stop right there. The answer is almost definitely ,"no".

      • Dr. J

        I need to correct the big homie Streetz. Reagan was the president who designated MLK's birthday as a Federal holiday. Clinton was the one who signed the legislation for the MLK Memorial. The argument that Clinton faced when he proposed the legislation was that a monument should be built for Reagan instead.

    • http://uphereoncloud9.wordpress.com/ Wu Young

      “I wonder if the tea party knows Reagan was a part of this, and not Clinton or Prez Obama…”

      To the Tea Party Reagan is a tax and spend liberal. Star is right, the Tea Party doesn’t know sh*t from Shineola!

      • starita34

        lol "sh*t from Shineola" I can tell you share my Southern roots, lol

  • Mika

    I hate when people bring up his personal life, affairs with other women & such. Martin Luther King not only deserves the monument & praise for the obvious reasons but he is a symbol of how we are not perfect, were human; we may make some mistakes in life, but it shouldnt hold us back from doing great things & bringing long lasting positive change to the world.

    "Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love". –Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • http://panamaenrique.wordpress.com Malik

      I like my heroes flawed rather than deified.

  • http://twitter.com/bruiser_ham Larry

    I'll be in D.C. next month for a bit and definitely plan on dropping by and checking it out, for sure! Salty I won't be able to make the happy hour. Everyone take a shot of Patron for your boy. Next happy hour in Ohio? No? Ok, then. Carry on, lol.

  • starita34

    Outstanding post Streetz. I too, was lucky enough to miss any nay-saying regarding the monument (actually that's not completely true, I did hear that we used unpaid Chinese sculptors to build it…but I didn't look into it).

    Your point on progress strikes very deep for me. The 60's were not that long ago, just watch The Help. My mom's HS was circled by the military and teargassed during integration…that ish is not a distant memory, and look at where we are at today. Much work to go? Yes. But MLK and many others did a great service to this country and even died while doing so and a stinkin monument in a city of monuments is the very least that we can do to honor his service and dream.

    BTW, not confirming that I saw any underaged pics of any young controversial rappers, but I will say small doesn't mean bad. Rather a tight A than a fried egg on a nail DD

  • cynicaloptmst81

    Nice post! I missed the hate, too.

    I'm so busy with randomness that I totally forgot the memorial opened Saturday until someone mentioned it late that evening. Daggon Irene! I plan to go next weekend.

    I think its a beautiful thang. For as long as Martin looks like Martin, I have no complaints. #wedontalllookalike

  • Phidelity15

    This is an excellent post. I’m still shocked that anybody could find fault with this monument. Like seriously….MLK is THE most famous black man in America and his role in the transformation of this country in undeniable. No I mean it…UNDENIABLE! I watched the special on BET (followed up by another special on Michelle Obama which was also great) and just listening to them talk about MLK was uplifting and empowering. This man literally gave his life for a cause greater than himself. Let that sink in. Now think about what you would give your life for. Actually think about the fact that you have a life to consider giving because that is exactly what he fought for. I can’t wait until I have free time enough to go visit the monument. I don’t even like DC like that, but for this I will definitely make a visit. Anyway, to lighten it up why doesn’t Dean Mason (sorry, he will always be Dean Mason to me since that’s how I met him my freshman year) just go ahead and make his home a museum already? He has a little bit of everything from every year we’ve ever had LOL

    Oh and whose buying the first round at happy hour?? I nominate Most since he’s nice like that

  • NinaFontaine

    This is an awesome post – that is all!
    Have fun tonight!

    • http://www.twitter.com/mikasthoughts Mika

      you need to get in your private jet and make it here by 6pm!

  • GirlSixx is ChloeRayne516

    “Martin Luther King Jr. will forever be that symbol for us, and this monument is just another reminder that dreams can become reality.”

    Yes!!!!!

    I think it’s a beautiful thing that we finally got one of our own monuments to gaze upon, although I don’t really like the way they got him posing, but hey baby steps.

    I missed all the naysay”ing that was going on in regards to this monument, the few people I’ve encountered and had a discussion with shared the same sentiment as me – - It was a long time coming and it’s nice to finally see.

  • Cheekie

    Great write-up, Streetz. I'll be in the Dee Cee urrea the first weekend in Oct and I definitely wanna squeeze in a visit to the monument. I gotta see it up close. Because like you said, it's a symbol for dreams becoming reality. And I can't help but want to feed off that aura.

  • theoneash20

    Good Afternoon,

    MLK was a game changer (& don't let the non-violent swag fool you, MLK was strapped at the end of his well -lived life )

    Unfortunately, you only get real kudos for your efforts in your death… That goes for every game changer out there…

    So, MLK deserves all the press he is getting…

    P.S. Although this would be a good as time & any to show up this evening, I will see y'all on my own time… I hope you enjoy yourselves

    SSTTE

  • MissMina

    Great post Streetz! I def concur, and I knew this was coming cuz I saw ninjas on Twitter gettin all up in arms about the monument. I was just like really?! You're mad about this too? I'm all for a great debate, but some people HAVE to find the negatives in EVERYTHING. Like Obama could single-handedly achieve World Peace, and someone would inevitably say "Who Cares?! World Hunger should have been his first priority…" o_O Smh

    Anyway, see you all at the Happy Hour tonight?! :-) *two-steps*

  • Hugh Jazz

    This monument was a long time coming and definitely well deserved.

    The argument some use, "That he isn’t a president, so why give him that much shine", is retarded. I've been telling myself that one day when I get time, I'm going to write a book about how the civil rights movement more accurately captures the ideals of what America is supposed to stand for than the Revolutionary War or any other movement or war in the country's history. The civil rights movement was legitimately about freedom, truly about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I'm not saying the Founding Fathers didn't genuinely want freedom, but the settlers were happy as cling peaches in light syrup to be colonies of England, until England started to tax them to pay their debts from previous wars.

    If Benjamin Franklin, a non-president, can be immortalized on the $100 bill, then we can give MLK a monument.

  • Drew-Shane

    Everyone wants to feel included. That comment really baffled me, "i think the problems come later when gays, women, latino, asians suddenly want "their" monument in Washington." As I'm sure that's the exact same sentiments White America thinks. The paradigms of separating everyone makes people want to feel included, especially surrounding lifestyle and cultural issues. As a BLACK male, I'm excited for the Memorial. I agree w/ the comments whoever has a great/greater impact should be included. I haven't heard much negative banter around the monument. Maybe I need to get out more doe…

  • DeKeLa

    Thank You,

    I could never understand the argument about him not being a president and then showing love to the Benjamins.

    Then again, how many Americans know that he is NOT a president?

  • Streetz

    Thank you for all the love and good insight. Glad I got a few perspectives!

    HAPPY HOUR TIME THOUGH!!
    My recent post A Taste of #TRUEBLOOD: Episode 46 – Burning Down the House

  • theworldoftiffany

    Now we all know that the world is filled with haters so I am not the least bit surprised that people have sideways ish to say. Now what did knock my Nike socks off was the fact that when I asked my students if they knew about the monument and they looked at me like I was bananas. Maybe their parents are the haters and not mentioning it to the kids…
    My recent post Mystically Surreal

  • OJ

    I think this article is short sighted and does not analyze all of the concerns that people have with the monument, primarily that it was not built in America or by Americans. The monument was created by a Chinese sculptor. Once again, China has exerted its influence over America as it is responsible for birthing the individual who created a monument that sits alongside monuments to past presidents. That stinks.