Obama is no Martin Luther King, Jr.
He is a politician, a liberal with moderate leanings. Like all politicians, he operates within a world of limited possibilities. His mission is to make the USA a better place, while serving the interest of the rich and powerful.
Martin Luther King, Jr., on the flip side, was a radical democrat.
He gave his life trying to build a better world, a “good society” anchored by racial equity, participatory democracy and social, environmental and economic justice.
King was concerned about group advancement—not just individual achievement.
As a politician, Obama’s rise to the top of his profession, and becoming president of the United States, is a wonderful story of individual achievement. It is a story that also reflects the growing liberalization of the United States.
But individual success stories do not CHANGE the realities of Black Americans.
King understood this. So, he never got sidetracked by one’s individual accomplishments. He was happy for them. But his big interest was the radical transformation of American society, so that all USA residents, especially blacks and Latinos, could live a good life.
King did not stop there. His dream was not just an American dream. His dream was a worldwide dream. MLK said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Most importantly, He understood that the “freedom fight” was a fight for the “larger freedom.”
By “larger freedom,” I mean the battle for real heath care, good, affordable housing, great schools and neighborhoods, no prison pipelines, and places where everybody can realize their full human potential and can optimize their life outcomes.
And not just here, but everywhere, regardless of the political system under which they live. A world where societies are judged by “how well the children are doing,” and not by “how open are the economic markets.”
King knew that the “smaller freedoms” — the right to vote, eat at any lunch counter, say what you want, and live anywhere– was just “one, small step” toward the “larger freedom.”
This is NOT Obama’s dream. I’m sorry, but it is true.
Obama is not a freedom fighter. He is a politician, who runs the country in the interest of the elites, while trying to do some good on the side and on the sly.
I’m just saying, celebrate Obama for who he is and don’t try to make him something else.
By Dr. Henry Louis Taylor, founding Director of the University at Buffalo Center for Urban Studies (CENTER), and a full professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the School of Architecture and Planning at UB.