Doshon Farad: Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama and Black leadership

By Doshon Farad

“We lost Martin Luther King because America did not want to hear a word that would make her a just society.” -Minister Louis Farrakhan

Ordinarily I wouldn’t pay homage to Dr. King on this day, as it marks the forty sixth anniversary of his assassination. But considering the crisis affecting the black community and oppressed people across the world, I’m urged to make a special exception in this case.

It almost sickens me to hear so many black folks, intellectuals and public figures in particular, constantly shoving President Barack Obama into the same category as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and our other leaders. It is equally upsetting to hear our president being referred to as the fulfillment of King’s dream and in many cases even as the “next MLK”, despite how many times he has shown us quite the contrary. Since Dr. King is virtually the patron saint for the African-American community, just about anytime an African-American man accomplishes some great feat in the public sphere, we automatically say “He’s like Martin Luther King”.

One thing I admire about the president is that when he first took office he made it very clear that he wasn’t a saviour for black people. Remember this one? “I’m not just the president for African-Americans but for all of America.”

I think a serious problem with African-Americans is our addiction to messiah-figures or people who we think will lead us to the “Promised Land”. And to most people in our community Pres. Obama is that person whether he wants to be or not.

I would like to pose a few questions to the “Keepers of the Dream”, most of whom are a part of the African-American civil rights leadership and give unconditional support to our Commander-in-Chief: Would Dr. King be in favor of our president rescuing corrupt Wall Street executives with corporate welfare in the form of a multi-billion dollar bailout but then lecture black and poor people about responsibility and self-reliance?

Would he support the unjust mass-incarceration of thousands of black and brown people across the United States ? Would he co-sign the illegal surveillance of Americans and our international neighbors?

Would King be in support of the continuance of AFRICOM, an organization that is at the forefront of the recolonization of Africa?

And lastly, would the Drum of Major for Peace be in favor of unjust wars and the killing of innocent people-many of whom are children- by drone strikes? All of these things are being committed and even increased under the Obama Administration in the name of Democracy at the expense of the taxpayers.

Rather than referring to the president as the fulfillment of King’s dream, I would refer to him as King’s philosophical nemesis. As Dr. Michael Eric Dyson once said, “MLK represents a prophet and Obama is a politician. And prophets often make politicians uncomfortable”. In other words Obama is pro-establishment and King was anti-establishment. My issue with the current black civil rights leadership-besides their present-day cowardice- is that when attempting to align Obama with King it never occurs to anyone that he sits at the head of the very government that opposed King and waged war on the community that produced him, Black America, by way of the infamous Counterintelligence Program, commonly known as (COINTELPRO) for short.

Additionally, President Obama is carrying out the same policies that King openly opposed i.e. imperialism, the war machine, classism, etc. It was public opposition to these policies that caused the late F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover to refer to King as a “notorious liar” and “The most dangerous negro in America,” and resulted in his untimely death forty six years ago this very day.

How often we forget that when King spoke against the Vietnam War it was the black civil rights leadership-many of whom are still alive claiming his legacy- who turned their backs on him and even condemned him.

We have these same type of “leaders” even today. The same type of black folks who cheer-lead for Obama and praise King were the same ones who condemned or would be condemning him for speaking against the Vietnam War.

In my judgement many of these black “Keepers of the Dream” have actually betrayed the Dream and Dr. King by allowing the election of this nation’s first black president to cause them to develop “Afri-Amnesia” and believe that we-black folks-have finally arrived at the Promised Land.

If anyone can be aligned with MLK I would say Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright and Dr. Cornel West who speak consistently against injustice and oppression. I must agree with Dr. West -who I just heard speak the other night- when he said, in referring to support for Pres. Obama, that many black leaders and public figures have “sold their souls” for an invitation to the White House in the name of Martin Luther King Jr.

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