When people hear the story of Ed and Mondo, some say the prison time is a waste of their lives. They have wasted nothing. Despite their circumstances, and they are bleak to be sure, they each live productive lives, “lives that matter.” During the last 45 years, both men have continued to teach and influence, to set a positive example and guide their peers. They serve as a reminder to us all to make each day count for something more than ourselves.
Contradictions in White America’s treatment of Blacks, which were exposed by the Black Power Movement, fashioned another side of King, according to his last speech and his writings. A side that began to embrace Black nationalist tactics and strategies as a means to achieve freedom, justice and equality for Black people. A side that accelerated Dr. Kings’ assassination.
Recently I went to the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Center in San Rafael, where the famed Shaolin Warriors of China were to give a performance in display of their hand-to-hand and weapons martial skills. The performance was designed to be a dazzling display of gung-fu couched in a “theatrical display” of a “sacred and deadly art.”
King’s commitment to non-violence had a purpose larger than non-violence itself. Non-violence was, for King and the movement, a means to a larger end – a tactic meant to topple racism and economic exploitation and lead the world away from cataclysmic warfare.
My name is Mychal Bell and I was one of the Jena 6 that was charged with attempted murder down in Jena, Louisiana, in 2006.
The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act to fund "green" resident-led recovery projects is inspired by Dr. King's proposal for ending poverty: a public works New Deal-like program assuring full employment.