The United States national holiday that commemorates the birth of human and civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is always a somber occasion for me. I acknowledge that I am all into my feelings today, because of today, because of the current climate of social injustice our nation is witnessing again. I'm annoyed by the sanitized and canonized branded image of MLK that is being pushed by the majority public. Folks seem to forget, or maybe they never realized how revolutionary and unwelcomed and uncelebrated and frightening Dr. King was (from 11 forgotten Martin Luther King quotes that show he was a revolutionary at Vox).
The public and yes I mean especially white people, white people very much like (or relatives of) many of the loudest proponents of "The Dream" today were the very ones who wanted to silence King and Civil Rights Protesters. My side eye is strong because I find it quite amusing that someone who can literally choose to be invisible and silent and avoid to oppression insists on schooling me (and others e.g. #BlackLivesMatter) as to how I ought to honor the man and people who fought my freedoms today. Yep.
I feel especially connected to the circumstances that brought about Dr. King's rise and assassination. I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and The South was still nursing wounds of racial discontent in the 1970s and 1980s.
I was raised and reared by the previous generation that participated in sit-ins, marched with King, and got arrested hundreds of times. Segregation, Jim Crow, Sit-ins, Night Raids, Marches and Battles for Freedom were the stories I heard ALL of the TIME. Like this: (link here)
But this isn't what I wanted to spend all of my energy on today in this post. I really want to talk about Science and how Dr. King was a quiet advocate (inspiration) for #BLACKandSTEM, too. But I can't dive into the feel-good stuff because I don't want to participate in a framing of MLK day that assuages people's discomforts about the reality of American life for people of color, of poor people, and of Black people in particular. The story of Dr. King, The Trekkie/The Geek can't be shared without acknowledging the import of Black Imagery as positive and competence was typical, not exceptional. Yea. I wish I could explain how science-fiction and Afro-futurism are like salve to a wound that is constantly abused. The image of a capable, equal, IMPORTANT, non-serving Black person on a television and in particular a science-fiction one was impactful.
We credit King for this Vision and leadership for the Civil Rights Movement. However, this clip of actress Nichelle Nichols discussing her meeting with Dr. King tells me he also saw the importance of Visibility, too.