Martin Luther King ~

This is a holiday in the US to remember a great man and his great words:

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Strength to Love, 1963

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

With those powerful words ringing – one would think that everyone would work together for the common good. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Here is Houston there has been a parade honoring the late Dr. King. for a number of years. Over the last several years it has been marked by hostility, anger and law suits by two competing organizations for the honor of having “THE” parade. These were organizations that worked together until an unfortunate split. There has been so much trouble over that last several years that this year the city council trying to play Solomon put together an ordinance limiting the city to one parade per day. This made sense considering all the city ends up paying to protect parades, re-locate traffic (this is downtown Houston remember) and police along the route. Rather than getting the organizers to work together (no surprise here), it caused the ACLU to get involved and the law suits began. To which I add, all this shows how far we still have to go to reach Martin Luther Kings dream.

From the Houston Chronicle is an article by Geroyal Jackson, a junior at Jack Yates High School, with his reaction to the entire parade situation.

Forty-four years ago, the great Martin Luther King Jr. sparked a huge change in the world when he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Today, it has been nearly 40 years since his 1968 assassination, and although the world is starkly different than it was in 1963, our world still has leaps and bounds to go before we can earnestly even attempt to say that we’ve achieved his “dream.”

Case in point: Two Houston organizations that are both supposed to be devoted to King’s message and legacy have made news and smeared the civil rights leader’s image — and all in his name.

The controversy stems from Houston’s MLK Parade, which for years was a single parade conducted by the Black Heritage Society, chaired by Ovide Dun- cantell and Charles Stamps. That is, until Stamps split from Duncantell in the mid-’90s to form the MLK Parade Foundation and through it, the MLK Grande Parade, bringing two MLK parades to the downtown area on the same day.

Ever since then, the parades and their backers have been feuding, resulting in the creation of a parade law that prevents two downtown parades on the same day. City lawyers say the ordinance allows police and traffic officials to protect mobility and public safety, and that allowing two parades downtown on the same day would strain resources — especially with an increasing residential population downtown.

So, with only one parade allowed, both organizations were forced to vie for a permit for the Big Day. When Duncantell and the Black Heritage Society were denied the permit in favor of his old foe, Stamps and the MLK Parade Foundation, Duncantell took the dispute to court and filed a civil rights lawsuit against Mayor Bill White and city Public Works Director Michael Marcotte, calling the parade law “unconstitutional.”

For now, the dispute has been temporarily settled by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, who allowed both parades to take place downtown, but the Black Heritage Society’s will take place in the afternoon while the MLK Parade Foundation’s takes place in the morning.

The whole matter has been disgusting to view. Here we have two people and their organizations fighting over the right to have an event to honor a man who was all about peace. Honestly, is the feud about honoring King’s legacy or besting an old rival?

These two men and their organizations are behaving like children and disgracing everything King stood for.

What would King say? Would he be proud of this trifling feud that’s taking place in his name? Would he choose a side? Would he applaud them for embarrassing themselves, his legacy and our people for their own egos?

No, he would not, because King was about unity and brotherhood, especially among our own people. So, while these two are tying up the legal system and making fools of themselves, they should know that they aren’t honoring the great man. They’re desecrating his memory.

So, instead of attending any MLK parade this year, I will be doing (and encouraging everyone to, as well) something that I believe honors King more: joining in the silent march down MLK Boulevard on Saturday, because as this whole feud has clearly demonstrated, sometimes the best course of action is silent.