“He set my mind free, so my mind free at last.”
I’ve always been fascinated by individuals who took the road less traveled and risked their lives for others, even though they didn’t have to. My favorite biblical figure is Moses. Why? Because Moses was the right hand to the king of Egypt. They were raised together. Moses could have played his part and been the second most powerful man in Egypt. But Moses said fuck that. I know from whence I came, and I choose to lead my people through the wilderness. Hebrews 11:24-29 tells the story in brevity. Hebrews 11 is my favorite chapter in the Bible; I tatted it on my right forearm. It’s my favorite chapter because it details acts of faith throughout the Old Testament. Moses’ story always intrigued me because he seemingly gave up everything, but for righteousness’ sake. “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). That’s deep. I’m that type of believer. I ride and die for mine.
Martin Luther King, Jr. could have Cadillac’d his way to a calm and peaceful life. He was the son of a preacher man who pastored a thriving urban Black church, Ebenezer Baptist. He was sent to university to study: Morehouse College (BA), Crozer Theological Seminary (BDiv) & Boston University (PhD). He didn’t attend either of the three on a United Negro College Fund scholarship. Jr. could have patiently sat beside Sr. in the pulpit and waited for his time to come. He would have made a good living and been out the way. But that wasn’t Dr. King’s road to travel. He settled in Montgomery and ran Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. He led the Montgomery bus boycott. He did make his way back to Atlanta and sat beside pop, but he returned to help found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). So began his ascension into the national spotlight and impending mortality. We all know the story’s highlights and its tragic end.
Of the many actions of MLK, I’m most intrigued by something that I found out about only a couple of years ago as I began to read The Assassination of Fred Hampton. I learned that MLK, Ralph Abernathy and other civil rights leaders spent the summer of 1966 living in a tenement apartment building in the slums of Chicago on the West Side. They sought an educational experience and to demonstrate their support and empathy for the poor (all the men were from the Black middle class). The experience was far from a success. King was actually hit with a brick during a march, but he continued to lead marches in the face of personal danger. Although the Chicago experiment had its troubles, I admire the moxie of Dr. King for staying in the slums of one of America’s most dangerous cities. That wasn’t just a social experiment. That could have been calamitous in many ways. Again, he could have been somewhere earning an easy check and cooling out. He chose to take the road less traveled. He was a king. He was brave-hearted.
SIDENOTE: From what I gathered from my Fred Hampton readings, Chicago’s gang culture was way too strong, superfluous and influential for the non-violent Civil Rights Movement to make any real strides.
In “Letter to the King” by The Game featuring Nas, both men salute the slain Civil Rights icon. The song is great, and its candid tone leaves an indelible mark on the listener’s psyche. Both men spoke about how, when they were younger, they didn’t put much thought into Dr. King, his accomplishments or legacy. They candidly admitted that they took MLK for granted before maturing and realizing his greatness and legacy. The words of both men are so poignant. Nas did his thing, but The Game’s second verse is legendary. It may be his best 16 ever.
“I feel the pain of -- Nelson Mandela, ‘cuz when it rains, it pours. I need Rihanna’s umbrella -- for Coretta Scott’s tear drops -- when she got the phone call that the future just took a fucking head shot...I wonder why Jesse Jackson ain’t catch him before his body dropped. Would he give me the answer? Probably not.”
LONG LIVE MLK
tymonday.com: @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com: @crewunB on Twitter & @theunbearablescrew on IG