Martin Luther King and The Palestinian Struggle

This January marks what has come to be known as the Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King’s month. The Rev. was born on the 15th of January 1929 in Atlanta Georgia. The grandson of the Rev. A. D. Williams, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church and a founder of Atlanta’s NAACP chapter, and the son of Martin Luther King, Sr., who succeeded Williams as Ebenezer’s pastor and also became a civil rights leader. King had lost the support of many white liberals, and his relations with the Lyndon Johnson administration were at a low point when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while seeking to assist a garbage workers’ strike in Memphis. After his death, King remained a controversial symbol of the African-American civil rights struggle.

I started off this morning reading a couple of the Dr.’s speeches, which he was famous for. His words were powerful and they struck me as I started to relate to his words. It was like I could see and feel the problems he talked about and did not understand why. The more I scanned the more I had to read. It was like reading a good book, one more page, and then another until I had finished three MLK speeches. I was overwhelmed by emotions, the Rev. Dr. Was speaking of my people and their plight and road towards equality and justice. I got excited and started skimming the speeches I had read and comparing the similarities.

They told us we wouldn’t get here. And there were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies, (Well. Yes, sir. Talk) but all the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, “We ain’t goin’ let nobody turn us around.” This paragraph caught my eye for I can relate it to my people and their long, hard road towards international recognition. We succeeded at making the world remember the Palestinians, for the innocent always cry out for justice. Our cries are still echoing all over the world, with Palestinian representatives everywhere and a seat at the UN general assembly, we will not be forgotten, ignored or put aside.

I continued reading MLK: To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy began immediately to engineer this development of a segregated society. (Right) I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, (Yes) thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South of laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. (Yes, sir) And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century. Again he talked about us, the southern aristocracy is the Zionist movement. Through their control of the media they revised the doctrine of supremacy “chosen people,” The Israeli Zionist propaganda had influenced the western people of the world and they now view the Palestinian Arabs as not equal, this is expressed through Zionist schools of thought and humiliation and disregard for Palestinian life.

Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. (Yes, sir) The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) The wanton release of their known murderers would not discourage us. We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) Like an idea whose time has come, (Yes, sir) not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. (Yes, sir) We are moving to the land of freedom. MLK talked to me these sentences about the glorious Intifada, the Palestinian civil rights movement, which will continue to fight discrimination and occupation till the day it is terminated.

It was normalcy in Birmingham (Yes) that led to the murder on Sunday morning of four beautiful, unoffending, innocent girls. It was normalcy on Highway 80 (Yes, sir) that led state troopers to use tear gas and horses and billy clubs against unarmed human beings who were simply marching for justice. (Speak, sir) It was normalcy by a cafe in Selma, Alabama, that led to the brutal beating of Reverend James Reeb. It is normalcy all over our country (Yes, sir) which leaves the Negro perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of vast ocean of material prosperity. It is normalcy all over Alabama (Yeah) that prevents the Negro from becoming a registered voter. (Yes) No, we will not allow Alabama (Go ahead) to return to normalcy. [Applause] The only normalcy that we will settle for (Yes, sir) is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. (Yes, sir) The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy of brotherhood, the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice. This segment speaks for itself, for it has become Israeli normalcy to humiliate, discriminate, and murder. The Palestinian people have rights and will only settle for “normalcy of justice.”

And so I stand here to say this afternoon to all assembled here that in spite of the darkness of this hour, (Well) we must not despair. (Well) We must not become bitter, (Yeah. That’s right) nor must we harbor the desire to retaliate with violence. (Mmm) No, we must not lose faith in our white brothers. (Yeah) Somehow we must believe that the most misguided among them can learn to respect the dignity and the worth of all human personality. This is where MLK shows the world that he is truly a saint. It is very difficult to love your enemy, which considers you as unworthy. It is very difficult to rise above the hate and violence and turn the other cheek. It is almost impossible in light of the bitter hatred planted by Israeli occupation and discrimination in every Palestinian’s hearts and minds. Yet he is absolutely right, for Palestinians to gain power, they need to continue to love their enemy and not abandon the values they were raised to stand for. We are stronger than the militarized enemy and will rise above them through resistance, speaking out, debating, and staying alive while moving on, for only then can our children and their children live in peace and equality.

(*The content above reflects the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of MIFTAH)

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