First I was aggravated at Oliver Stone for throwing in the towel on the much-touted film on the eve of the Martin Luther King holiday. He knew the announcement would grab the headlines and further sully the great man’s name.
Then I turned my anger to the keepers of the MLK legacy, the King family and their advisers. Why not just admit that MLK had feet of clay that are far less relevant than his leadership of a movement that has forever restructured the political, social and cultural contours of this nation.
When I turned on the radio for my Sunday morning ritual listen to On Being I was delighted to realize that the gurus at MPR had wisely chosen to air a conversation that Krista Tippett shared some weeks ago with Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons and Lucas Johnson. Listening to that thoughtful discussion relieved my angst and inspired reflections far more appropriate to the occasion. Though my original intent was to share the podcast and transcript, a click on the website disclosed that the interview was actually videotaped in December in front of a live audience at National Public Radio in Washington, DC.
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, an early black power feminist, is the older of the two guests. She well remembers blatant racism, picketing and marching, the subtleties of the leaders’ philosophies and the distortion of the facts over time. She has written about her experience as a SNCC activist in Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC. Today Dr. Simmons is assistant professor of religion at the University of Florida. She is also a member of the National Council of Elders (about which I want to learn more.)
Dr. Lucas Johnson, a younger man, speaks more of the impact of the civil rights movement on him personally and on his generation. He is Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. His conversation revolves around the impact of the civil rights movement on current issues of peace, non-violence and reconciliation.
- Listen to the unedited podcast here: http://www.onbeing.org/program/deromanticizing-the-civil-rights-movement/20140116/extraaudio?embed=1&start_track=1&?embed=
- Watch the conversation at http://www.onbeing.org/blog/dr-simmons-and-rev-johnson-talk-civil-rights-and-nonviolence-living-forward-today-live-video
- Or read the transcript at http://www.onbeing.org/program/transcript/6104
- MPR has posted a short video discussion starter based on MLK’s I Have a Dream speech. View the video here: http://vimeo.com/64079741