Excerpted from a piece by Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen on Alternet:
It’s become a TV ritual: Every year on April 4, as Americans commemorate Martin Luther King’s death, we get perfunctory network news reports about “the slain civil rights leader.”
The remarkable thing about these reviews of King’s life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole…
An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn’t take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.
Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they’re not shown today on TV. Why?
I knew all this, of course, having been a sentient human being and a newspaper reader during those years. But for some reason it never registered with me just how successfully we have, you should pardon the phrase, whitewashed Martin Luther King in our national memory.
Now we can safely pat the Rev on his cute little head and name streets after him and feel very, very good about ourselves as we go about our customary business of keeping blacks out of the voting booths and in the jails where they belong, and resegregating our schools, and plunging with mindless enthusiasm into our never-ending succession of needless wars.
Dr. King would have fought every one of these evils with every bit of his strength and so it became necessary to turn him into Bill Cosby with a divinity degree. Martin, we hardly knew ye.