Where do we go from here?
It’s a question asked in the title of Martin Luther King JR’s 1967 book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? It was his fourth and last book, written while he was away in Jamaica at the time. That year was filled with may race riots across the nation including some in our home space of New York and New Jersey. No one knew what was going to happen next, but there’s one common theme that came through in that book. HOPE.
Fast forward to the year 2022, many of the themes of 1967 still hold true today. Voting rights is STILL an issue. Poverty is still a big problem in this country, and getting worse as COVID-19 reaches its second year.
Those who helped elect the nations first Black president Barack Obama in 2008 thought the fight was over, but at that point it had just begun. We are one year removed from an insurrection on the nations capitol over what has been proven to be lies about the election, a pandemic that is causing economic hardship in every aspect of this nation, and a middle class fighting to still be relevant years from now. There’s a fight to keep Black history from being taught in schools because “the stain of this nation’s pass is just too harsh for kids to hear.”
On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King JR, traveled to the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. There he gave a speech much of which to energize and support the Memphis sanitation strike in which workers demanded higher wages, time and a half overtime, extra safety measures, pay when they were told to go home, and more. This is also King’s last speech as he was shot and killed the next day.
“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
Every Martin Luther King JR. day, it gives this nation the opportunity to look back at the impact the civil rights leader made to bring more equality in terms of race in the United States. It is also important to take this time to look forward, bring us together to influence, engage, and energize those who many not understand that history only repeats itself, and the lessons of yesterday may teach us on how to make a step forward going into the future.
Today (Jan 17), many Americans will wake up go onto their social media pages and recite parts of Dr. King’s famous 1963 speech I Have A Dream as he stood tall on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to speak about the right to equality, as well as civil and economic freedom in the United States of America. Those people will recite the words, but not act on the powerful meaning of the worst repeated yearly in schools, households, and television for the last 59 years. The importance is not to listen to the words, but hold them accountable to their words.
As we sit today on a day off for many, don’t only just enjoy this extra day. Take time to reflect on King’s words throughout the year, and ask yourself what will you do to make sure his legacy lives on. How can you make an impact in your community. How will you help bring a more equal and a time of less hate in America.
As Dr. King wrote in the aforementioned 1967 book,
“In the days ahead we must not consider it unpatriotic to raise certain basic questions about our national character,” he said. “Let us be those creative dissenters who will call our beloved nation to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humanness.”
“Hope” what does it mean to you?
Watch a special message from Ebro, followed by the final passage of 1968’s I’ve Been To The Mountaintop read by: Papoose, Gunna, Pardi, Jim Jones, Dreamdoll, Girl Codee, TT Torrez, Miabelle, and French Montana.