So another major holiday has come and gone and once again... here's a shock... I think we missed the point. This time around it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This day isn't like the Fourth of July or Memorial Day where the meaning is so blatantly obvious that it can't be missed. The meaning in this day is somewhat more subtle. The day is meant to honor a man who changed our entire society for the better.
I'm not sure people really understand the magnitude of what MLK Jr did. In summary, he changed an entire society through non violent means. Changing the way a person acts or thinks is hard enough, and changing a group of people is almost impossible. But he changed an entire nation. The enormity of that is mind boggling. He facilitated change through his words alone. WORDS! Nothing more. And, to force a society to face the social and economic injustices built into it's fabric is no minor task. It's truly amazing.
Personally, I, like everyone else, always knew about MLK Jr. but I didn't know him. It's like when Wesley Snipes tells was Woody Harrelson "Look man, Your can listen to Jimi but you can't hear him. There's a difference man. Just because your listening to him doesn't mean you're hearing him."
It wasn't until I read the "I have a Dream" speech that I started to understand. I cannot begin to dissect the speech and explain all it's importance. I'm not good at finding the hidden meanings in messages. But, this speech was so good that the meaning was obvious. I couldn't miss it if I wanted too.
Just in case you haven't read it, the speech is at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm
In terms of comic books, there is an excellent biography of MLK by Ho Che Anderson. It isn't the world's most comprehensive biography of the man but it's good in a cliff notes-summary kinda way. The art is excellent and it humanizes MLK as both a man, with some obvious failings, and as the leader of a movement. I borrowed the local library's copy and enjoyed it enough to add the book to my permanent collection.
That's King, by Ho Che Anderson, published by Fantagraphics, 7" x 11", 240 pp., Color, $22.95.
You can see samples at http://www.hocheanderson.com/index2.htm, pick comics and scroll to the right for some pages from the book!
If, by some chance, you didn't take five minutes this past Monday to read about MLK or re-read any of his speeches, I highly suggest you do. In a world where violence always seems to be the first option, we would all do well to remember what he achieved and how he achieved it.
And, just in case you already read "I have a Dream", you can read "Time to break the Silence" at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm