Happy MLK Day everybody.
On this day we celebrate a birthday instead of a deathday. I would like to celebrate his resurrection day.
Brother Cornel West has written a series of important books. But only one did Brother Cornel call “the most important [book] in my corpus.” And that's The Radical King, West's anthology of King writings.
In it, Professor West rejects what he calls the "Santaclausification" of King and surfaces what West considers King's buried sacred texts. As a writer, I thought to myself, “Why would someone be proudest of a book they didn’t write?”
It hit me like lightning when I examined the word “corpus,” Latin for “body,” generally related to “body of work” in this context. But I believe I know what Brother Cornel meant. He meant it literally.
As a committed Christian, he was daring to take a godlike position of resurrector, or, if the good word spreads to the masses, we can all reach for that position together.
Among the many strengths and strains in streaming audio, lives the fact that practically every spoken word record is available. King’s final speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” should be experienced in audio. You can hear the voice of someone who chose martyrdom over fear. It is a miracle the recording exists. Here’s one version of the recording:
King’s friends told him to cancel the speech to save his life. He said, “I’d rather be dead than afraid.” He was assassinated the next day.
When "Who Killed Malcolm X" dropped, my son asked me, “Daddy, why do people get assassinated?” I said, “Because it works. Their ideas die with them. It takes decades and decades sometimes for their ideas to return.”
Some protest signs say, “You can’t stop an idea whose time has come.” It’s not true. There are so many ways to stop ideas. Even making them seem new is a fascist achievement.
Thank you Brother Cornel for helping to resurrect the radical Dr. King.