A tree will be known by it's roots/fruits. One of the most unknown fruits of the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King's life is Black Liberation Theology developed by Dr. James Cone. Dr. Cone blended the Black-Christian experience exemplified by Dr. King and the Black Revolutionary experience of Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X). (Click the link above to listen to Dr. Cones speak about Black Liberation Theology).
As we pour our libation for Dr. King this weekend I ask us to ask ourselves "Is the work finished ?" Many will hear the "I have a dream" speech quoted or sound-byted today. I've come to the belief that Dr. King stood for more than his frequently quoted dream, Dr. King stood for much more than racial equality, Dr. King stood for more than civil rights. Dr. King stood for liberation. Dr. King stood for improvement.
To better understand the fruits of Dr, King I listened to the interview with Dr. Cone for "Fresh Air" (click the link to do so yourself). When interviewed by Terry Gross Dr. Cone explained that Black Liberation Theology is a theology that "sees God as concerned with the poor and the weak." I listened to Dwight Hopkins' statements that "(Yeshua) Jesus came for liberation." (click this link to hear Hopkin's statements). Liberation provides a free and improved state of being.
Dr. King was murdered after his ministry moved from a focus on civil rights to a focus on human rights. He was preparing to aid workers who were not receiving a fair deal by employers and by the government. Dr. King was focusing on people who were poor and weak. Dr. King's own church disowned him as he began, to later proudly accept him as his strategy began to work. As much as I used to think that King's strategies were a bit soft, I must admit how much I admire those tactics currently. I listened to the interviews, I thought about all I heard about Dr. King, and then I asked myself the question "Is the work finished ?"
Some will say that in the year 2008 the wish/dream/idea that "Little black boys and little black girls will be able to walk hand in hand with little white boys and little white girls." has been realized. Some will say that we are in a time in our country that men are basically judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin in most of our American interactions.
I know that our work is greater than the time allowed in my generation. I know the work is greater than one person. I know the work is greater than the scope of my understanding. I know the work is a great work. I also know the work remain unfinished.
One of our Conscious-Community members, Dan Tres Omi, replied to an earlier post stating "Currently, the black church seems to be caught in a battle: Liberation Theology vs. self salvation. I think that is why many of us forgotten what the Black church was there for. Now we are caught in his idea that we are supposed to be rich versus helping build our communities."
The work remains unfinished. The work is a work in progress unfortunately without the needed manpower. We can argue that people of African descent in the United States of America have progressed, the U.S.A. has progressed and is living closer to it's creed, and that the rights/opportunities/lives that our ancestors prayed and bled for have arrived. We cannot argue that the work is done.
Over the last few months I've begun using the term "Black Improvement Movement" to describe the directions/messages that I've been receiving. I believe our work has moved from a total focus on Rights to Improvement. Since the U.S.A. has gotten closer to it's direction of equal rights we may now move to a Civil Improvement Movement. Our leaders from the Civil Rights era seem passe' when they speak. It's time for new leaders to take the torch. Join the movement for improvement. The website Hot Ghetto Mess says it well, "We've got to do better." I agree.
If a neighborhood is primarily Black (of African Descent) we should ensure that it is the cleanest, safest, and most prosperous neighborhood around. In many cases the opposite is true. The Civil Rights movement can't address this disparity, Law enforcement and the government can't fix this disparity, entertainers changing some of the words they use can't fix the problem, the Churches/Mosques/Synagogues/Houses/Liberation study Groups haven't fixed the problem...Yet it most cases where an improvement in a community has occured it has occurred by one person making a decision that "We can do better" and others following the lead.
When an un-involved parent acts in a manner that says 'I can do better" the family they neglected improves. When an involved parent makes a similar decision a similar effect occurs. When a student decides "I can do better" their grades improves. When one looks at themselves in the mirror and decides to make a lifestyle change to improve their health their lives, and the lives touched by them improves. Businesses constantly look for ways to improve their profits.
Let us look and act upon ways to improve our families, our communities, our nation, and our race. This sounds simplisitc..... I know....It's supposed too. We can begin by doing simplisitc acts of improvement, the results will show simple improvement. Let's all get improved. Let's all improve.
This is the Black Improvement Movement signing on ! May our actions improve the world.
The Imani Foundation