Live together as brothers or perish together as fools

Published 4:43 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023

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To the Editor:

August 28th of this year marks the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (commonly known as March on Washington), led by the late, great Civil Rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the attendees was Mahalia Jackson, the Queen of Gospel Music and King’s friend, who urged Dr. King to speak from the heart. Hence, King delivered the historic “I Have a Dream” speech which, for countless Blacks today, has evolved into a nightmare.

In any event, Dr. King’s message focusing on what he called the “fierce urgency of now” still resonates in the minds and consciousness of the warriors for justice and righteousness.

The fact that Dr. King’s protest marches – and the March on Washington was largely a protest march – were organized in collaboration with other civil rights leaders notwithstanding, Dr. King truly and relentlessly put his life on the line for a larger cause and preservation of humanity. He raised consciousness and awareness about the evils of war, poverty, and racism. King’s efforts forced President Kennedy (JFK) to pursue a civil rights agenda before Kennedy’s life was cut short in Dallas, Texas in 1963.

Dr. King realized that he would not live a long life. Besides, he had received numerous threats. Further, the assassinations of voting rights activist Medgar Evers in June of 1963, JFK in November of 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, and the bombing of Black churches and King’s home served as a foreshadowing omen of impending doom for King and created a case of collywobbles for the justice warriors on the battlefield of righteousness.

By the way, when Dr. King and JFK walked through the Rose Garden of the White House in 1963, JFK privately told King that the FBI was spying on him. Interestingly, JFK’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, authorized the wiretapping and spying under pressure from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who harbored racist tendencies and propensities.

“Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”, written in 1967, was Dr. King’s fourth and final book before his 1968 assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. King challenged us to work towards the beloved community where we respect each other and transcend race and class to treat people the way we want to be treated.

The Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, always cautioned that there is very little under our control and that we should focus on our own actions, beliefs, and judgments. Ideally, if we collectively practice this maxim, this country and world would benefit immensely.

In any event, Dr. King was on point when he elucidated, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Keith W. Cooper