In previous MLK holidays, I have posted a transcript of the most under-referenced half of one of our society's most popularly touted speeches delivered by Reverend King on 1963. I have called it "The Broken Promise" speech more commonly "branded" (double entendre intended), the "I Have a Dream" speech.
But today's passages penned by this prolific "drum major for justice" and published posthumously (in the January 1969 issue of Playboy Magazine) have been chosen given the current presidential election cycle wherein with the first Black presidential candidate to win the Iowa caucuses, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is vying for the Democratic nomination against the first female presidential candidate to be considered a front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).
Postings here have been noticeably sparse regarding the election and all of its various mini-dramas. So as the harbinger primary approaches in South Carolina where the Black electorate may represent the majority of voters who show up at the polls on Saturday, the following passages from Rev. King's writings provides some historic prescience -- particularly in light of how Hillary Clinton have chosen to misrepresent Reverend King's political prowess:
One of the most basic weapons in the fight for social justice will be the cultivate political power of the Negro. I can foresee the Negro vote becoming consistently the decisive vote in national elections. It is already decisive in states that have large numbers of electoral votes. . . Negroes are even the decisive balance of power in the elections in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. So the party and the candidate that get the support of the Negro voter in national elections have a very definite edge, and we intend to use this fact to win advances in the struggle for human rights. I have every confidence that the black vote will ultimately help unseat the die-hard opponents of equal rights in Congress -- who are, incidentally, reactionary on all issues. But the Negro community cannot win this victory alone; indeed, it would be an empty victory even if the Negroes could win it alone. Intelligent men of good will everywhere must see this as their task and contribute to its support.
The election of Negro mayors . . . has . . . had a tremendous psychological impact upon the Negro. It has shown him that he has the potential to participate in the determination of his own destiny--and that of society. . .--but this is not the ultimate answer. Mayors are relatively impotent figures int the scheme of national politics. . . The necessary money to deal with urban problems must come from the federal government, and this money is ultimately controlled by the Congress of the United States. The success of these enlightened mayors is entirely dependent upon the financial support made available by Washington.
The past record of the federal government, however, has not been encouraging. No president has really done very much for the American Negro, though the past two presidents have received much undeserved credit for helping us. This credit has accrued to Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy only because it was during their administrations that Negroes began doing more for themselves. Kennedy didn't voluntarily submit a civil rights bill, nor did Lyndon Johnson. In fact, both told us at one time that such legislation was impossible. President Johnson did respond realistically to the signs of the times and used his skills as a legislator to get bills through Congress that other men might not have gotten through. I must point out, in all honesty, however, that President Johnson has not been nearly so diligent in implementing the bills he has helped shepherd through Congress.
Of the ten titles of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, probably only the one concerning public accomodations--the most bitterly contested section--has been meaningfully enforced and implemented. Most of the other sections have been deliberately ignored. The same is true of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which provides for federal referees to monitor the registration of voters in counties that are eligible where Negroes have systematically been denied the right to vote.