Last Sunday, on the eve of MLK Jr. Day and the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, I went to hear Dr. Cornel West speak at Kennesaw State University. If you have ever heard Dr. West speak, you know that he is a dynamic opinionated speaker yet sometimes very controversial. Any opportunity that I get to listen to him, I do. Not because I agree with everything he says, because I don’t, but because every time he speaks I learn something. This time was no different. He spoke vividly of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what he truly should for, he spoke about the times then and the times now. He also briefly spoke about the differences in Dr. King and President Barack Obama.
He mentioned that Dr. King worked and marched for justice for all people, not just blacks, but ALL people. Dr. King also marched for the impoverished, in the cities of New York to the slums in India. One of the differences that he spoke passionately about was that the bulk of the country’s wealth resides with an elite few. He made it clear that he was disappointed, and that Dr. King would have been disappointed, to know that the government used or “found” billions of dollars to bail out banks and automotive companies yet nearly 50 million Americans are living in poverty and struggling to survive. Dr. West touched on the thousands of people dying overseas in war, yet, the President really does “nothing”. He also spoke about how Dr. King stood behind his Christian values and never went astray but he does not see this same allegiance in President Obama.
More recently, Dr. West spoke on a panel where he states that President Obama didn’t deserve to be sworn in on Martin Luther King Jr.’s bible. President Obama used two bibles during his Inauguration ceremonies, one of the bibles belonged to Abraham Lincoln and the other bible belonged to Dr. King. I have posted a link to the video below for your reference.
Wow. Dr. West thought that President Obama should not have used Dr. King’s bible because he contradicts the beliefs and principles in which Dr. King stood for. Dr. West’s position was not surprising to me at all but it did make me think. First, President Obama is not Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nor should he be expected to do everything like he did. Dr King was a great leader, preacher and social activist. President Obama is a politician; he is the President of the United States. Although I studied political science in college, I’m no political expert, but even I know about the politics of politics. In this country, presidents are people-pleasers and they try not to “rock the boat” too much. Often times they are finding a means to an end. As president, there are certain unwritten rules to be followed that do not apply to social activists and leaders. I say all this to say, everything takes time. I truly believe that the president used the bibles, or both of the bibles, to show how we are progressing forward. It took over 200 years before a black president was elected to led this country and there is STILL a long way to go. One day, there will be a President that truly uploads Dr. King’s beliefs and principles but that comes with time. Nothing worth having comes easy, as we have learned from Dr. King, but we must keep moving forward one step at a time, one day at a time.