The Legacy of King in the Age of Obama
January 21, 2013 Leave a comment
Upon hearing that President Obama was going to use the King family bible for his second inauguration Cornel West had this to say:
While the first black president having his second inauguration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day clearly has important symbolic significance, we must remember that King’s message was much more radical than “having a day on” or committing oneself to a life of service. King pushed for the removoal of the evils of “poverty, racism, and militarism.” Therefore, in a post-recession, still-at-war in Afghanistan world I give you these words from Martin Luther King Jr. delivered on April 25, 1957.
Psychologists have a word which is probably used more frequently than any other word in modern psychology. It is the word “maladjusted.” This word is the ringing cry of the new child psychology. Now in a sense all of us must live the well adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities. But there are some things in our social system to which I am proud to be maladjusted. I never intend to adjust myself to the viciousness of mob-rule. I never intend to adjust myself to the evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic inequalities of an economic system which take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating method of physical violence. I call upon you to be maladjusted. The challenge to you is to be maladjusted – as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day, could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, “Let judgment run down like waters and righteousness like a might stream”; as maladjusted as Lincoln, who had the vision to see that this nation could not survive half slave and half free; as maladjusted as Jefferson, who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery could cry out in words lifted to cosmic proportions, “All men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” As maladjusted as Jesus who dared to dream a dream of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men [sic]. The world is in desperate need of maladjustment. King, The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Volume IV: Symbol of the Movement, 190-1.