Arthur C. Clarke had a dream.
|How's the dream doing? How's Detroit doing?|
Carl Sagan had a dream.
Robert Heinlein had a dream.
Werner Von Braun had a dream.
Ever since man first gazed into the night sky and saw millions of lights glaring back, the dream has been to find what's out there, and perhaps discover if anyones looking back on a distant world wondering the same thing.
A gigantic moon rocket and an old mule-drawn wagon wrote a paradox of humanity Wednesday.
While the Apollo 11 thundered toward the moon as a thrilling step in the conquest of space, a contingent of the Poor People’s Campaign trudged a highway far below – as a reminder of hunger and poverty yet unconquered on earth.
“We must have a launching of a program against poverty – hunger in particular – racism and war; a launching that is just as effective and beautiful as was the moonshot launching,” said the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, leader of the Poor People’s group that had VIP seats for the rocket spectacular.
Abernathy and 45 followers watched from choice seats at Kennedy Space Center while another contingent of his antipoverty corps briefly blocked traffic on a highway to the center.
About 40 marchers, trailed by a two-mule wagon, walked along the causeway from the space center and onto U.S. 1 before dispersing and boarding buses.
Three days later, men - white men - would step foot on the moon, courtesy of technological advances and courage seemingly written into the DNA of Western Man.
At the VIP viewing site – separate from that where Vice President Spiro Agnew, former President Lyndon B. Johnson and other dignitaries were - Abernathy and his group sang “freedom songs” and he spoke to the entire crowd before the launch.
He said he’d come to see the spaceshot and to “demonstrate and protest that America has mixed up her priorities.” While the Apollo moon-landing voyage was the culmination of 10 years work, he said, “this nation still needs to plan a program for meeting human needs.”
Abernathy, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and successor to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., called on the spectators to join the antipoverty campaign. He was busy signing autographs until about five minutes before the launch. After the Apollo roared away, Abernathy and his group sang, “We Shall Overcome,” the civil rights theme song.
Imagine the juxtaposition of a the gigantic Apollo rocket in Cape Canaveral, next to a mule-drawn wagon, which only 100 years prior was one of the primary means for transporting white settlers across the American continent.
For the fulfillment of Manifest Destiny.
Yet, in the entire history of African people, no evidence is available that the invention of the wheel had ever occurred.
|The reality of race has never so clearly been defined as this footprint on the moon.|
But Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream, and anyone else who ever dared, perchance to dream, saw them go up in a cloud of righteous smoke.
And thus, the genesis of what we have labeled Manifest Destruction was born.
Had MLK not been assassinated, he'd have led this Poor People's March on Cape Canaveral; He'd have been the one serenading the crowd with the Negro spiritual "We Shall Overcome" as a massive rocket, built by thousands of white men, hurdled three white men into the heavens.
America did launch a program against poverty and racism, scrapping the dreams of science fiction writers and visionaries in favor of a dream from a black man whose only goal was to ensure black people took power in cities like Detroit, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Memphis, and Birmingham.
All the movement MLK led was one to ensure a massive transfer of wealth and morality transpired, marooning the white man on this earth with the teeming masses using something called 'white privilege' as a rope to restrain his spirit.
But it will break.
For in the above AP article from 1969 rests the comical reality of evolution, and in 2013, we have the devolution of our major cities from hubs of commerce and growth, to blighted remnants of a failed civilization.
The civilization of MLK and Abernathy, where we abandoned the pursuit of space exploration and decided to ameliorate poverty and racism.
Think about that: in 10 years time, men in the 1960s set forth to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade; since then, we have seen an endless pursuit of eradicating inequality in the name of justice, under a banner with a picture of Comrade MLK.
All we have to show for it is Detroit.
And Gary (Indiana).
Newark and Camden, New Jersey too.
But on earth's natural satellite is a reminder of not only what could have been, because the physical evidence for genetic inequality rests more than a hundred thousand miles away forever a silent guard to racial differences.
A foot print.
Man stood on the moon.
What is the black man's foot print on this world?
What is the legacy of MLK's dream, which Abernathy carried on and kept alive by singing Negro Spirituals as the Apollo spacecraft roared into the heavens?
Detroit in 2013.
No, the last 50 years were not a dream.
You can't wake up from the nightmare until you find the courage to to renounce the guilt and embrace the privilege.