I admire and respect Dr. King; but I ain’t talking about the Dr. King that the Black Masses have fetishized and the White Elites have distorted.
King displayed enormous ideological growth over his relatively short lifespan. He was only 39 when the government murdered him; hell, I was still a Black Puritan well into my 20s.
King evolved, or was evolving into a Revolutionary, but he had the exposure and popularity of a mainstream Integrationist, so he was a threat. Can you imagine Obama embracing Revolutionary Pan-Africanism, and calling a meeting with Omali Yeshitela? That’s what it was akin to when Dr. King was making statements like: “my nation is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” or talking about how it’s immoral to tell Black youth to be non-violent in America, but telling them to be violence in Vietnam. Or when he was talking/listening to Elijah Muhammad, Kwame Ture, Malcolm X, and Kwame Nkrumah.
I’ve read 4 of Kings 5 books, plus his magnificent “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” I listen to his Massey Lectures, and Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam speeches at least once a year; I know the King that they tried to bury; so I respect the man, and his contributions to our struggle.
Ultimately, King’s Legacy is greatly tarnished, because Integration has done us more damage than good, but I think King was denied the opportunity to correct his mistake, and build on his new understandings; so many in the Struggle judge him harshly, and I can’t really defend King’s Legacy from his detractors, and I don’t shy away from pointing out his failings as well.
King is worthy of our admiration, and our criticism; as are most of our icons.