“Exodus! Movement of Jah people!” wails Bob Marley in his iconic song with its driving, pulsating rhythms. Does history repeat itself? Are we the Israelites? Is this the Promised Land? Do people, names, and themes recur and resonate down through history until the end of time?
Some in the Black community complain that the president does nothing to help Black people. Nonetheless, he enjoys overwhelming support amongst African Americans based, not necessarily on what he has done, but on what his presidency may mean in the future for the American psyche. Obama’s ascension to the presidency was foreshadowed by the rise of another mythic figure, Martin Luther King. . .
Martin Luther King was swaddled in myth and legend from the day he was born. His namesake, Martin Luther, was the revolutionary priest who shook the Catholic faith to its core, beginning its reformation into the Protestant tradition. King, note his name was King, followed suit cutting just as ground breaking a path in a 13 year quest for universal equality that ended when he was assassinated in Memphis. “Memphis” was the name of Egypt’s capital city when the Hebrews were enslaved.
The night before he left the earthly plane, King foresaw his imminent demise. And so, in a steamy auditorium that was his Garden of Gethsemane, he told the ecstatically cheering throng,
“. . . Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. (Pause) Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land! And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”
Fifteen years later, his birthday was made a national holiday thanks in large part to the exertions and agitation of a figure appropriately named Stevie Wonder. Thus, he became an American icon on the level of the Founding Fathers and the Great Emancipator, if not higher, for though they proclaimed liberty for all, they all had troubling, unstated qualifiers.
America is the Promised Land, the big, fertile, resource rich rectangle in the center of the earth. People stream here from every corner of the globe, seeking the legendary Dream we are said to hold. The meek are inheriting the earth in the wake of King’s destroying the great Goliath that was known as Jim Crow. So we see that Martin Luther King truly walked in the footsteps of legendary figures, only to die and then be resurrected in the nation’s Pantheon. And not just in the public mind, but in gigantic white alabaster stone on the national mall, emblazoned with his stated mission, “to carve a stone of hope out of a mountain of despair.”
“Exodus! Movement of Jah people!” wails Bob Marley in his iconic song with its driving, pulsating rhythms. Does history repeat itself? Are we the Israelites? Do people, names, and themes recur and resonate down through history until the end of time? You decide. . .