As we sit in remembrance of the spiritual activism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., America finds itself unable to reconcile the true identity of the people as we continue to be split along racial and socio-economic lines, it is important to focus on what MLK left behind: a proverbial roadmap to freedom and independence.
Morally and practically, King thought non-violent protesting was the most sufficient way to enact resistance towards Jim Crow and legal segregation. At that time Black people were only approximately 10% of the population and held a sliver of the country’s possession of firepower, therefore, which would inevitably cause a quick demise if a race war was to be entered into.
It was also King’s goal to combat the legal system which regulated and allowed the humiliation of Black people to go mostly unchecked, protecting white supremacist attacks and terrorism towards Black people. It was in his mind to change the law, which would change the destiny of the country and his people.
We see the remnants of the ideals and understandings working today as Black people took to the polls in Georgia to overturn the senate majority from Republican to Democrat. We see this as a Black and Southeast Asian woman prepares to take her seat as Vice President.
But as political victories become more prevalent, the shadow side of our country’s vision of reality it starkly and almost immediately combatted by misguided, far right-winged, racist vigilantes who will do anything to show their disdain for the extension of power towards marginalized people by committing heinous acts like overrunning the White House, hoping to cause the stir and perform a coup to keep their white supremacist interests intact.
Dr. King understood the political battlefield and without him, we as a country, particularly the left and progressive sects of our culture would not have an example of what legal warfare doused with grounded religiosity can do.
Not all people are religious, nor do most people have an in-depth understanding of the law, but there has been an instinct and tactical gifts that King left us that has given us power. And as technology advances, the new generation is able to mobilize without so much laying a finger on anyone. In protests, Black people and anti-white supremacist groups are armed with the understanding that inciting violence will rarely come to a positive conclusion and an understanding that a defensive stance by only acting when we are put in imminent physical danger has saved many lives on the front lines.
We have been prepared for a long road, armed with intelligence and patience from the past as Black people embark on a journey of equality and freedom which is now centuries old in this country. We have made some progress, but not enough. But the dissemination of methods that have worked in the past can be expounded upon and recalibrated so that they become fresh and new while holding deep historical knowledge at its foundation.
MLK continues to be a guide, a source of reverence, and an emblem of advancement. We must not take his legacy lightly. We must envelope what he represented with pride and an empowered eye towards the future.
Jordannah Elizabeth is the founder and editorial director of Publik / Private.