Anger. The ML King Memorial speakers provoked an anger. I was angry that a university cross culture staffer was also angry enough to rail against cultural bias.
Angry that an African American woman student confronted the kind of racism mostly borne of ignorance. Micro aggression she called it, white boys would date her, but only in private, never in public. Insidious racism in questions about how often black students wash their hair, or did she have any thug buddies?
Angry that a pastor who grew up near Selma and who worked in Birmingham said even all these years later "we still have work to do."
Angry that indeed the battle is far from over. Angry that prejudice and racial intolerance are still enemies of the Republic. Too many battles, too much suffering, too much residual poison, too much anger for too long. All of this should have been fixed decades ago.
I wondered as speakers pointed to old enemies, that should have been vanquished, if Dr. King would not now be pointing to the enemies of economic disparity, sexual and gender discrimination as well as the kind of racism seen in police murders of black citizens, or voter registration entanglements or a Mitch McConnell saying on day one of the Obama administration his job was to prevent the president's re-election.
Hats off to Pacifica Radio Archives for finding a "lost" Martin Luther King speech.You can link here to learn about and listen to a 1964 speech in London, just days before he received the Nobel Prize.
By April 1967 Dr. King had grown angry. If you are interested you can hear the address delivered at historic Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967, a year before he was murdered. The speech was called Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence. It is considered the most controversial speech of his life.
SEAN PENN'S FAILURE
Sean Penn told CBS's Charlie Rose he considered his interview with the Mexican drug kingpin a failure, because it failed to foster a wider conversation about America's own failure, the long and tired War on Drugs, being waged since the Nixon administration.
Some have attacked Penn for doing the interview, faulting him for his lack of journalistic perspective. Penn challenges what he says is a failure in American journalism.
What Penn offered up in Rolling Stone was a personal piece, his experience with and his take on the drug Lord. It was not meant to be a thorough and full examination of the Mexican cartel, its leader and his violence. It was however the first public comment from a twice escaped international fugitive in hiding. That he got him to speak, even under conditions is better than anyone else has done. Did his interview offer great illumination? Probably not, but it offered more than we knew previously.
It is not the kind of journalism being celebrated in the Academy Award nominated Spotlight, but it was a snapshot of a public enemy while on the run. Penn may have wished for more. Envious journalists and embarrassed law enforcement may take their shots. Still on balance, Penn risked his own well being, displayed a curiosity and produced an honest account that on balance brought up the information level on a legitimate story. No great success perhaps, no Pulitzer winner, but neither was it a failure. At the very least Penn deserves credit for giving it a shot.
See you down the trail.