Al Sharpton is at it again. On the very same day he lashed out at Sarah Palin for her supposedly divisive rhetoric, he made a speech containing some inflammatory rhetoric himself, accusing Palin, Beck, the Tea Party and others of trying to steal the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. “Don’t let them steal our crown, this is our crown.” As if Sharpton believed that he is the sole inheritor of Dr. King’s Legacy:
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Forty-seven years to the day later Al Sharpton and a host of speakers stood in front of a group of 3,000 people and declared that Reverend King’s dream was their property alone, a message he repeated in the video above.
Sharpton and other activists gathered to commemorate the 47th anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, then joined hands and walked 3 miles to the site of King’s future memorial. “This is our day and we ain’t giving it away,” said Sharpton.
Reverend King knew that the only way his dream would ever be realized is to invite people of all colors and beliefs to join him. And when he marched, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (on the left in the picture below), was next to him, along with others, like Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath (carrying the Torah) who were not Black but believed that Dr. King’s cause was holy.
Heschel, a Polish immigrant, scion of a long line of Chasidic rabbis, Professor of Jewish Ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and King, an American descendant of slaves, a compassionate protector of the oppressed, charismatic orator, writer and theologian, marched side-by- side from Selma to Montgomery to protest the pernicious racism that poisoned America and humiliated its African-American citizens. A host of white citizens, filled with venomous hate, surrounded the marchers, jeered and spat upon them. But as Heschel declared later: “When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying.” It is important not only to protest against evil but to be seen protesting. Faith in the goodness and oneness of God is powerfully expressed through the language of feet, hands, and spine.
The crown of Dr. King is not Al Sharpton’s it belongs to everyone who fought for equality in this country, it is a legacy passed down to all Americans, the ones that heard his speech live or those who have only seen video clips. We must hold hands and fight bigotry together.
Sharpton, on the other hand, is a professional bigot. During his long career the Reverend’s words have incited two anti-Semitic pogroms; the Crown Heights riot and the firebombing of the Jewish-owned Freddy’a Fashion Mart in Harlem. Each of the Sharpton-incited pogroms resulted in deaths. He also ruined a young DA’s life by bearing false witness against him.
Dr King preached love between all people, Al Sharpton preaches hate.
Dr. King did say that one day some of you will own my dream. But he never said that some would own his message, and others had to stay away, he said that we should unite in faith and freedom:
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
That is the “Crown” of Dr King, a message of brotherhood to all people, and owned by all.
Al Sharpton’s “Crown” is a dunce cap of hatred and decisiveness.
Forty-Seven years ago, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Al Sharpton would be better off to learn about the legacy of Dr. King, only then could he claim to be its owner.