Sunday, April 6, 2008

Return to the Mountaintop

Forty years ago last week Martin Luther King Junior returned from the mountaintop to continue campaigning for civil rights in Memphis Tennessee. On 4 April he was gunned down by James Earl Ray.

I've been offline for much of the last fortnight but felt this should not pass without comment. On the anniversary Barack Obama invoked that mountaintop visit quoting King: "Either we go up together or we go down together". No doubt that is a thought uppermost in the mind of progressives in the US at the moment. Both speeches are worth the visit.

King made his historic “I have a dream” speech in 1963, 3 months before John Kennedy’s assassination. King's own murder took place not long after he had said, “Let me close by saying that we have difficult days ahead in the struggle for justice and peace, but I will not yield to a politic of despair.”

In an age of cynicism, we need to spend some time reflecting on those sentiments. A renewed desire to reject political despair clearly accounts for a lot of Obama's popularity.

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