Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK and Dr. Archibald Carey


Photo Galleries from Life Magazine

It's Martin Luther King Day!

MLK was a great leader - even though he was, as we all are, greatly flawed. I understand MLK's flaws. They are my flaws, for I am human. I accept him as he was, and admire his leadership.

Having said that, today I also remember and honor Rev. Archibald Carey, Jr. Why honor Mr. Carey today - other than because he was an accomplished Black Republican? Here's why: Mr. Carey gave the "I Have A Dream" speech first - to the 1952 Republican National Convention! Mr. Carey's speech was plagiarized by MLK a little over a decade later at the Lincoln Memorial. Kudos, Mr. Carey. Also, foibles-wise: hilarious! And oh so human.

h/t: Gateway Pundit, although, as MLK's flaws are also my flaws, I was sorely tempted to not credit Gateway Pundit.

Other fun info:

MLK's speech was an example of nimbleness. MLK was inside his audience' OODA Loop*.

MLK's written text on that day did not include "I Have A Dream". MLK began giving his written speech, and he was badly bombing. The audience tittered. They were bored and disinterested. Seated behind MLK, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson repeated urged: "Tell them about the dream, Martin." An outstanding public speaker, MLK knew he had lost the audience. He ditched his prepared text, and - from memory - launched into Rev. Archibald Carey, Jr.'s speech.

And the rest is history.

More on MLK:

MLK's prophetic comments - about the strong possibility of his own death - delivered on the very night before he was assassinated:

Here's what preceded the above:
You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?"

And I was looking down writing, and I said yes. And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that's punctured, you drown in your own blood—that's the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what the letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it. It said simply, "Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School." She said, "While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze."

And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn't sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream. And taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, been in Memphis to see the community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.

*Link to OODA Loop leads to brilliant pair of essays by Bill Whittle. Highly recommended, and highly enjoyable.


Bob said...

"A man cannot ride your back unless it is bent." I like thatquote very much.

gcotharn said...

Thanks for calling attention to that quote. MLK invoked so many vivid images that I sort of glossed over that one. It is wise and inspiring.