Adrienne Langlois

Advocate, communicator, historian, pop culture consumer, AmeriCorps Alum, Brown graduate.

Required Reading: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Tumblr is a great platform to share links, but sometimes, sharing one link just isn’t enough. As a former history concentrator, I’m of the opinion that the more perspectives one reads on a particular subject, the better. 

Nowhere is this more true than regarding the dialogue surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. All over the internet, radio and tv today, people have been evaluating, appropriating and discussing Dr. King’s legacy in different ways— some thought-provoking, some offensive, some inspiring, all fascinating. This is by no means comprehensive, but I wanted to share a few of the more insightful and challenging pieces and happenstances I encountered today.

I’m not sure whether Required Reading will become a regular feature, or if it does, how long I’ll keep it up. I’ve tried to source all of these things correctly— if you’re the original owner of the content and I haven’t correctly linked you, let me know!

On to the links:

Via the fabulous blog Racialicious, three attempts to dismiss and/or appropriate King’s legacy. King, like many former radicals, has been increasingly sanitized and reappropriated by those seeking to gain a broad base of support— many forget how radical his messages really were, both in their time and today. 

Via Jezebel, another one of my favorite blogs, who posted their own great required reading post, from which this link comes: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech upon accepting the first Planned Parenthood Federation of America Margaret Sanger award. King was given the award in 1966 “for his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity.” In it, King emphasizes the role of family planning as a means to stability and security for African-Americans. 

NPR’s great program Tell Me More had a fantastic MLK-themed episode today that crammed a lot of thoughtful and important perspectives into one hour. Highlights include Nichelle Nichols (best known as Uhura on Star Trek), Cornel West, and the discussion of “the new civil rights movement.” 

Another great post from Racialicious (via my wonderful friend Sarah) with two powerful quotes about the misinterpretation of King’s messages. We absolutely cannot forget that King was a radical, both in his time and today, and cannot reshape his message into something that would make us more comfortable—as so often happens in conventional retellings of all histories.

From hip-hop video blog, "10 OTHER Things Martin Luther King, Jr. said." We do both Dr. King and ourselves a disservice by remembering him only for his (nonetheless important) “I Have a Dream” Speech. King’s call for change in society went far, far deeper, and with so much work left to be done, there is absolutely no reason for us to get lazy now!