Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr : 5oth death anniversary and the ugly face of racism

"The American white relegates the black to the rank of shoeshine boy; and he concludes from this that the black is good for nothing but shining shoes."
                          ― George Bernard Shaw


Racial discrimination is a scourge that still exists across the globe and  and in countries like the USA, Britain and Australia, to say the least, it is subtle. Britain, in the last several decades, has become a multiracial society, but still there are examples of dreadful racism and racial bigotry. The racial prejudice may have come down, but it is there very much.   Decades and even centuries ago it was quite rampant in European colonies because of purported supremacy of the White race (Europeans) over the Black and Colored people. Millions of people of various races were subjected to torture, murder, intimidation, insults, so on and so forth because of misguided racial policies of some of the governments run by the white people. Who will forget the torture and mass killing of Jews by Nazi leader Hitler and his cronies in the late1930s and 1940s?  By the same token, who will forgive the greatest Briton Winston Churchill, who purposely caused  artificial famine in Bengal India (The great Bengal famine) in the early 1940s and indirectly was responsible for the killing of  3 to 4 million Bengalis? It is nothing but a holocaust on par with Jewish holocaust.
Dr. King addressing in Washington DC. IGCSE History
In the sphere of  racial supremacy, slavery and slave trade in the early centuries, particularly  three European countries were in the forefront, Spain, Portugal and England because they had excellent explorers and sea voyagers, besides good knowledge of navigation and seafaring. When they found new lands with strange people with different culture, they were the ones who got into the slave trade and transported African blacks in millions to the new world - the Americas to work on the farms, plantations, etc. It was human exploitation all the way by the Europeans, The English did not spare the Asian Indians and Chinese either; these people were transported to  their  colonies under the British Empire to work as hands in the agricultural lands. For centuries these hard-working innocent people  experienced nothing but hell under the unscrupulous and disgusting slave masters and  traders. They were not allowed to live their own lives with fresh air and freedom. The scars on their bodies will reveal what kind of torture they underwent.  With rationed food and water they had to work more than 15 hours a day. They had no idea whatsoever as to what was in store for them following day. 

Generations later racial  discrimination  continued unabated in the USA and elsewhere.  In the 1950s and 1960s in the USA, racism was a big issue despite Abe Lincoln's efforts to abolish slavery and reduce racial problems. Black people's patience ran out. The blacks in the USA did not enjoy voting rights nor were they allowed to study in the colleges.  In civilian life, they had to use  separate toilet facilities and on  public transports, they had to sit separately in the eating places. In the southern US states, racism was quite visible unlike in the northern states because there the states' Racial Separation laws (Jim Crow laws) were historical and constitutionally not removed. Once in a while, the Lynch mobs of white people commonly called klans will come and attack  the blacks if some social problems crop up and go against the wish of the whites. Earlier, when slavery was not abolished, the black women were subject to all kinds of torture by the 'White' slave masters. The most disgusting thing is the women were raped  right before their men. To say the least, centuries ago,  treacherous men using the skin color as an excuse  branded  them as if they were  the cattle in the ranch. Many of the slaves had iron fritters on their leg to avoid escape. 

In the case of Asian Indian workers,  about 3.5 million Indians were transported to various colonies of European powers to provide labour for the (mainly sugar) plantations. It started from the end of slavery in 1833 and continued until 1920.  The Indian indenture system was  a form of debt bondage. The workers went to the other colonies under the protection of the government to avoid abuse. But,  once they landed on the new land, they had to put in extra work for a small sum. When the labor  contract was over, the White Master or the leader, in some cases,  would leave them in the middle of  nowhere with  no water facilities and let them starve to death.  As for  other work conditions, they never stuck to the contract  and violated every regulation. At the same time, the masters kept filling up their coffers  to the brim frequently.  The slavery in the British empire was abolished in the 1830s. Thanks to many good-heated British MPs like William Wilberforce.

The recent example is South Africa, a well-known apartheid country which became free in the 1970s.  The white Gold and Diamond mines workers were paid several times more than the black workers. The credit goes to  leaders  like Dr. Nelson Mandela who spent major part of his life in jail, fighting racial discrimination  to free the blacks from the vice-like grip of racism. When Mahatma Gandhiji was in South Africa as a practicing Barrister, representing the poor Indian population consisting mostly of Muslims, he was the one who took the cudgels against the apartheid government and used his trump card non-cooperation movement successfully there in the early part of 19th century.


Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and Civil Right  activist from the Southern US state of Alabama who became the most vociferous and strong  spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 through 1968. Using non-violence as propounded by Gandhiji and the message of Christian love, he courageously challenged the social and political injustice of free American Society with humanism centered on humankind, ethics and emancipation. His practice of  nonviolence and civil disobedience without compromising on Christian love and faith and equal respect for other humans was a new idea to fight against sensitive and emotional  issues. Dr. King intelligently blended the the philosophy of Christian love and the potent weapon of Gandhiji - non-violence and Sathyagraha (non-cooperation movement) to appeal to the conscience of the American society. He pointed out 'racism is retrograde and is not good for the progress of any  country for that matter. Violence can not be won by violence. Racial equality will put the country in the progressive mode'. Obviously, he hogged the limelight in the American History in his relentless fight against racial discrimination against the blacks who had been groping in the dark for centuries
The Birmingham .campaign. .SlideShare
On April 4, the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination is to be celebrated on a grand scale. Thousands have a plan to go to Memphis, Tennessee. Events included marches, speeches, conferences and a day of remembrance.  Much of the US will come to a halt on this day
Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. | by U.S. Embassy New DelhiFlickr
When Dr. King was in the height of popularity in his fight against racism on the evening of  April 4, 1968, he was shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis by a racist white man James Earl Ray (believed to be a member of a racist group called KKK - Klu Klux Klan). King was just 39, too young to die, a man with bright future was cut short of his life by a fanatic.
India honors. Cool Global Biz
Above image: This stamp was issued in India in 1966 to honor Martin Luther King Jr., who received the Nehru Award for International Understanding ............

The motel is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum, which includes Room 306, preserved as it was when King stayed there. His famous March on Washington in August 1963 and his equally inspiring speech  "I Have a Dream" have become part of American history.  He was awarded  the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was with Dr. King on the evening he was shot dead will be attending the meeting.

At 6.01pm, the time King was shot, the museum will ring a bell 39 times in recognition of King’s age when he was killed.

The Atlanta congressman John Lewis will also grace this event. He actively took part in the  King’s 1963 March on Washington, when the civil rights leader gave his 'I Have A Dream speech'.
James Earl Ray, assassin of Dr.King. Alamy. 
There is a Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama and this city is believed to have been the most segregated city in the US.  From the jail here  Dr.  King wrote the famous letter after being arrested by the city’s infamous police commissioner Bull Connor, who attacked demonstrators with attack dogs and fire hoses in 1963. 
Birmingham civil rights demostration nydailynews.com/

 Above image: A 17-year-old civil rights demonstrator being attacked by a police dog during demonstration in Birmingham.

Birmingham civil rights demostrationnydailynews.com/

Above image: A patrolman and a police dog go after a black man who swings at the dog with a small knife during racial demonstrations in Birmingham.
 "......From May 2 to May 10, 1963, the nation bore witness as police in Birmingham, Ala., aimed high-powered hoses and sicked snarling dogs on black men, women and even children who wanted just one thing — to be treated the same as white Americans.
The next day, a thousand more — joined by brigades of grown-ups — hit the streets and this time Connor deployed the dogs.
A Negro woman was bitten on the leg by a police dog,” United Press International reported. “A Negro man had four or five deep gashes on his leg where he had been bitten by a dog. A sobbing Negro woman said she had been kicked in the stomach by a policeman.”  The battle in Birmingham dominated the evening news and the sickening spectacle got big play in newspapers across the country and around the world...." (vide: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/birmingham-erupted-chaos-1963-battle-civil-rights-exploded-south-article-1.1071793).......................


 Washington, DC History & Culture will host a walking tour that will pass by the spot on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where King delivered his famous  "I Have A Dream" speech, and on to his monument next to the National Mall.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/april-4-2018-when-the-world-marks-50-years-of-martin-luther-king-jrs-death/article23402202.ece

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/visiting-memphis-50-years-after-kings-assassination-5115061

 http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/birmingham-erupted-chaos-1963-battle-civil-rights