Stories & Columns

The Literary Divide: Is America
really ready for "President" Barack
by Dr. Paul Barrows

Feingold & Conyers introduce the
End Racial Profiling Act,
by Jonathan Gramling

Vic Bankston running for Dane
County Supervisor,
by Jonathan Gramling

Gov. Doyle endorses Barack
Obama for President,
by Jonathan Gramling

Politicas de hoy: Hillary Clinton,
una hazaña contra todos los
pronósticos en New Hampshire,
por Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

Poetry page features Madison's
Poet Laureate, Fabu

Asian Wisconzine: Phoebe Eng,
Woman Power,
by Heidi M. Pascual

"Happy birthday Dr. King,"
A poem by Eileen Cecile Hocker

Simple Things: What we can do,
by Lang Kenneth Haynes

Voices: Raise a praise song to the
King of foresight,
by Jean Daniels

Ebony Fashion Fair: GLAM Odyssey,
by Jonathan Gramling

Second Annual Madison Kwanzaa
by Jonathan Gramling

Los Tres Reyes Magos y Los Niños,
by Jonathan Gramling

China Dispatch: When Summer ...
and I ... said goodbye,
by Andrew Gramling

Hector Escobedo: His own life
experiences guide youth,
by Laura Salinger

City of Madison MLK Humanitarian
Awards: John Quinlan and Lauren

Organ donations in the African
American community (Part 3),
by Jonathan Gramling

An Asian American's view on
by Heidi M. Pascual

Allen & Darlene Hancock
Fellowship Hall dedication,
by Jonathan Gramling


Editorial Staff

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Heidi Manabat
Managing Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Paul Barrows
Jean Daniels
Andrew Gramling
Lang Kenneth Haynes
Heidi M. Pascual
Laura Salinger
Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

©2008 The Capital City Hues
Dream Fulfilling?
Barack Obama and Dr. King's Beloved Community
I had to stop and take notice last year when Ward Connerly — the ex-regent for the University of California who has
been traveling the country promoting anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives — came to Madison to “testify” at a
hearing for the special committee on affirmative action chaired by neoconservative Sen. Glenn Grothman. Connerly
is a real “siren song” kind of speaker who comes across as a reasonable person while he sticks the knife in the back of
affirmative action. Connerly and others regularly use quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech
— especially the part about King’s children not being judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their
character — and other works in their conservative spin to discredit affirmative action. I would listen and, I have to
admit, they almost had me going thinking Dr. King would be against affirmative action today.
I had to stop and think “Is this the Dr. King that I have read about my whole life?” It’s almost like someone coming up to
you and whispering in your ear that your best friend was somehow someone totally different than the person you knew
and there is this thing inside of you — this negative voice — that starts to wonder if it is true.
And so, in preparation for this King Holiday, I bought A Testament of Hope and have been reading a lot of Dr. King’s
sermons and writings because I didn’t want anyone spinning Dr. King to me. I mean, there is enough spin around the
King Holiday that goes on, which makes Dr. King look like a saint as opposed to J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960s, who
tried to make him look like the devil.
I have to admit that a lot of what I know and believe about Dr. King has been through the eyes of others. Now I had
read Dr. King’s Dream speech and A Letter from a Birmingham Jail and even his Riverside Church speech when he
came out against the Vietnam War. I had seen the newsreels and gazed at the photos. And I have had this somewhat
idealized vision of Dr. King based as much on my own hopes and needs as on what Dr. King actually stood for. Most
people do that these days. I mean Dr. King was a Baptist minister and was always evoking God and Jesus in his
speeches and gave Sunday sermons at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where he was co-pastor with his father, but
there are some who almost portray him as atheistic. Ah, we create our gods in our own self-image.
Well, the Dr. King I am finding in his writings was truly an idealist and visionary, but he wasn’t anyone’s fool. He was a
man who struggled with the threat of violence constantly, who dealt with egos and jealousy within his ranks and
disappointment in the lack of Christian vision in many of his fellow ministers. And in spite of all of the earthly things
that he constantly had to cope with, Dr. King still kept his “eye on the prize.”
And while Dr. King had his Dream of the Beloved Community where race wouldn’t matter anymore, he also knew that
we wouldn’t get there without dealing with the legacy and inequalities left behind by slavery. Dr. King’s vision on how
to get to a race-neutral Beloved Community wasn’t to say ‘Well, we’re all equal now because we believe we are now
equal and we now have a level playing field because we believe it is level.’ Dr. King was no Ward Connerly.
Dr King knew that specific steps needed to be taken. He wasn’t out there supporting the striking sanitation workers in
Memphis when he was assassinated because he believed that we had now transcended to his Beloved Community.
No, he knew it was going to take a lot of hard work and government intervention.
In an interview he gave with Playboy Magazine, Dr. King said “All of America’s wealth today could not adequately
compensate its Negroes for his centuries of exploitation and humiliation. It is an economic fact that a program such as
I propose would certainly cost far less than any computation of two centuries of unpaid wages plus accumulated
interest … Within common law, we have ample precedents for specific compensatory programs, which are regarded as
settlements. American Indians are still being paid for land in a settlement manner. Is not two centuries of labor, which
helped to build this country, as real of a commodity?”
This sure sounds like advocacy for an affirmative action and a set-aside contract approach to me. Now when I hear
Ward Connerly and others use the words of Dr. King in their arguments against affirmative action, I will know them for
the disrespectful manipulation of the words of one of the greatest Americans who ever walked this land. I would urge
all of you to set aside some time this King Holiday weekend and read some of the works of Dr. King. Get to know him
without all of the hype and spin. Get to know him for who he truly was and not what others want him to be. Remember,
Celebrate, Act!
Reflections/Jonathan D. Gramling
                        Discover the real King
JAN. 10, 2008 ARCHIVES