“I fear I am integrating my people into a burning house.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Don M. Franco
As we acknowledge Dr. King’s birthday today, I ask: “What would Dr. King say about the conditions of the African-American community and/or our country in 2021?”
In my research over the years, I have come across an interesting observation.
During Dr. King’s last speech “Mountaintop,” not one word about voting was mentioned. I often say that Dr. King changed over the 5-year period between August 1963, when he gave his “Dream Speech” in Washington, D.C., and 1968, when he delivered his “Mountaintop Speech” in Memphis, Tennessee on April 3rd. I believe he was trending more towards a do-for-self economic program, rather than a solution to Black issues from the government.
Further, 1968 happened to be a presidential-election year. And can you imagine a national leader not saying one thing about voting during a crucial speech with what many consider an all-important event (e.g., a presidential election) about to take place in just a few months? Just to show you how uncommon Dr. King not mentioning voting was, imagine our ex-President Barack Obama or Reverend Al Sharpton having a speech in April, 2020 and them not mentioning voting, especially with a presidential election looming just months away.
When I stated my position to a friend of mine, he made a great point as to why Dr. King may have not mentioned anything about voting in his last speech. He said, “One would have to look at the whole picture of why Dr. King didn’t bring up voting.” He also asked, “Is there any footage available that showed Dr. King’s last 3 or 4 speeches that would solidify or discredit your position?” So with that, I did some more research.
In my research, I couldn’t find the last 3 or 4 speeches Dr. King gave. But, I did come across some footage in 1964, again an election year, and in this footage Dr. King readily emphasized voting and not self reliance.
(See Dr. King’s 1964 comments here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=V8Fr8100bqQ)
Now if anyone has any footage of Dr. King’s last 3 or 4 speeches that occurred in late 1967 or early 1968, I’d love to see it (as you can post the speech/speeches in the comments section of this blog).
In closing, my review of Dr. King’s “Mountaintop Speech” and his comments before the election in 1964 has provided me an enormous conviction that Dr. King viewed our country’s government as an entity that would not remedy the issues for Blacks. And I could be wrong in my assessment. But I do believe Dr. King started to realize that a more effective strategy which would resolve our crisis would be a do-for-self economic plan.
With the aforementioned stated, I believe if Dr. King was around today he’d view the plight of our communities in 2021 and ask, “Y’all still haven’t mobilized around a do-for-self plan like I told you to in ‘Mountaintop’ more than 5o years ago?” (And I say that respectfully.)
Please leave your thoughts on what you think Dr. King would say about Black communities or our country in 2021 in the comments section below. Thx.
Don M. Franco is the Founder and CEO of WWW.FAMDO.COM, a social-entrepreneurial company which exists to revolutionize how African Americans spend their money, and raise the value of local black communities.
Don is also the author of the company’s book, “The FAMDO Way: A Social Entrepreneur’s Faithfulness.”