Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.

Of the five essays. Love, Law and Civil Disobedience rings most historic for me.
As the essays opens, it is said that there were many criticisms against student sit ins, and freedom rides, from people wanting a more gradual approach, King’s address stands out with his groundwork and explanation of his movement.
King defends the philosophy behind the movement, he speaks of what history reveals in terms of oppressed people rising up and states, “on the other hand, history reveals to us that those who oppose the movemnt for freedom are those who are in priviledged positions who very seldom give up their privileges without strong resistance.” He then speaks of three common ways to deal with oppression connecting it with the student movement here in the U.S. He justifies his philosophy and explains to critics who believe he is supporting communism. King states, “this is where the student movement and the nonviolent movement that is taking place in our nation would break with communism.” He goes on to state powerful words about agape love, the role of suffering in this movement, and the power of goodness within human nature. He expresses his ideas as a movement away from negativity and unjustness, an evil of sorts. He addresses the Freedom Rides, and the singing of “we shall overcome” in the most dire situations, and again mentions how important the student movement is to his philosophy and the carrying on of it. His words invite challenge and he is well prepared to defend his ideas of nonviolence in relation to civil disobedience. In this he establishes more reason to join in the struggle to fight injustices.

Of the required readings I must say that “I see the Promised Land” struck me as being a liberal speech but an eerie insight into the dangerous reality of King’s world in terms of death and threats.
First how he spoke of Abernathy’s introduction as if he wondered who he was talking about. He would reflect upon remebering certain instances of his movement not like he was speaking to his grandchildren about the history, rather as if he was watching his life unravel before death. His words still come across as positive towards the goal, yet seem to leave him out of the equation for the future. “We have got to stay together”, “But I know somhow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.” 280. King recounts his history with Bull Connor , and then to Memphis. He knows that much work must still be done, in boycotts, and “bank-in” movements yet still makes reference to the stabbing incident which almost took his life, “if I had sneezed…”. Memphis was a dangerous place for his to be and he understood the risks, spoke about how the risks were worth the struggle for Memphis and left the rest up to his savior. A powerful way for King to leave us, “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you.”

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What’s the matter with Kansas?

      In reponse to our reading this week, my answer would be No, I don’t think Frank thinks the poor conservatives are stupid, they just need to purchase his book and realize some things.  Frank’s work is important because Frank is from Kansas, and he knows the history behind Kansas, he knows that Kansas was once a society that thought for themselves, a society of radicals, now as he explains in his book they are a part of the conservative machine that is growing too big too fast.  Frank makes a good point not to blame Kansas, he agrees that the democratic party left the farming nation to fend for themselves and it was the conservatives that took advantage of the situation.  So are the people stupid or are they just waiting like the rest of us for something to drastically change-they just have more money to waste while they wait.

Consumption parallel with Civil Rights

     Historian Lizabeth Cohen emphasizes the connection between consumption and the civil rights movement by documenting the power held by the African-Americans as they took their place in the “consumer’s republic”. The civil rights movement was a direct effect of the patterns of consumption which the African-American worker as a voice for equality.

     Cohen discusses the role of the African-Americans in terms of organization and activism, central to the civil rights agenda.  She highlights such groups such as the Sleeping Car Porters’ Ladies Auxiliaries (50), and the influence women held in spending for their households. These neighborhood leagues were a great influence on organized rallies and marches. This would be the beginning of the plight for equality of consumerism.

    Another influence during the 1950’s was the noted advantages which the black veterans held in terms of the GI Bill as “fuel for the civil rights movement(172)”, allowed families purchasing power for homes in neighborhoods not usually market for non-whites.  The victories the African-American population were gaining fueled the civil rights activists as white rights were being tested across the South.  Black leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. fulfilled the role of   organizing  community awareness in the disparity of equality in terms of buying power and education. 

  The role of race and economics was exposed during the civil rights movement gave African-Americans the leverage needed to put up a stronghold on the economy by striking and boycotting. They had clearly figured out the system, a system which only recognized one color: green.

American Dreams by: H.W. Brands

When Brands writes about America, he does so generally speaking which allows his book not to the historical admirer but the reader who wants to see what our American past reveals in a very vague fashion.  When Brands speaks of our American Dreams, he does so in a very happy state much like the interesting cover-the typical American family, admiring all that is good in what our flag represents.  The Dreams brands writes of seems to be just a validation that American History has actually not just been a nightmare, though some may disagree.  Brands leaves little for the reader to conspire about or develop judgements, his writing seems to be more of a summary than an account of a national celebration.  Brands may need to write another book in a few years and I’m expecting a chapter on Sarah Palin. I kid! Yet I was happy to see the mention of feminism (pg. 177). Brands’ book makes an excellent textbook for those who slept through history classes in the 1980’s and woke during CNN’s broadcasting of the current Egytptian political state.