In responsibility to do whatever it may take

In “Beyond Amnesia: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Future of America”, Vincent Gordon Harding denounces the mainstream memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.. Harding believes this rather tailored recollection of King does a disservice to his goals, actions, and overall impact on society. After reading this article, I realize I have learned a reduced version of King’s story. Previously, I believed King to be the harolded leader of a nonviolent revolution of change that benefited African-American people. This was a rather ignorant, ill-informed perspective. I am thankful and rather excited to learn that King not only supported the African-American community, but also the impoverished, underprivileged, the alienated, and others battling for their pursuit of happiness through a life free of discrimination. He also spoke with such conviction; King’s repetition of “I choose” when talking about his commitment to the poor in 1966 shows his firmness in his beliefs (Harding, 469-470). His devotion to not only speak his opinion, but also act on it is truly admirable. Harding’s word choice of “we” and “us” evoked my, and seemingly my classmates’, desire to join him in an honorable remembrance of King by standing securely in our own convictions and joining the fight against inequality. He also attempted to tug on our American heartstrings with inclusion of phrases like “a more perfect union” (Harding, 475). I believe he was successful in doing so as I feel a sense of empowerment and responsibility to do whatever it may take to mold America into a better nation.Of all of King’s accomplishments and ambitions that would benefit the future of America, we, as Americans, remember and recognize a select few. I believe this is in part because King was ahead of his time; people were not ready to change their beliefs. With a preoccupation in military affairs in addition to economic and political problems, America was not willing to accept such radical ideas, nor believe those ideas were possible to implement (Harding, 472-473). In part, America is not willing to face the disparities in equality that are still present. I was particularly struck by the following lines in a poem by Carl Wendell Hines, “…And besides, it is easier to build monuments, than to make a better world.” My heart sank as I realized the truth in those words. We have chosen to erect monuments in King’s honor, but hypocritically take little to no action. For instance, King would have been insulted if he knew the Marine Corps were celebrating their invasion of foreign lands while his bust was placed into the Capitol (Harding, 468-469). Our sense of amnesia regarding King’s memory is devastating to what King dreamed of and America’s potential for opportunities to create a more perfect union. I am also fearful that we are further ingraining the oversimplified version of King into our future generations. As early as elementary school, children learn about King’s impact, but in a diluted fashion. This could be to help the children more easily understand the complex concept of racism and poverty. However, I am a firm believer that knowledge is power. By educating the generations to come about the need for people like King and the need for his respective cause, we become closer to creating a more just society. The concept of institutional racism, classism, and overall discrimination against minority parties is a learned behavior. Education is the key to eradicating hate. We must learn to fight for what we believe in, just as King did.


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