I have to admit that I am a bona fide “news junkie.” Yes, I keep the “boombox” in my kitchen tuned to the local public radio station and it never gets a rest — remaining on “24-7.” All three televisions in my home, including my mother’s favorite, the HD big screen, that is, when I’m able to wrestle the remote control from her tight grasp, typically blast news and views as reported by CNN, MSNBC and either the District’s ABC affiliate or TVONE (shout out to my man Roland Martin and his morning report from the Black perspective).
Even before shaving and showering, I first savor a Starbucks-brewed cup of coffee and read the New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today — often taking notes or ripping out pages along the way for later projects or potential ideas.
But on Tuesday, April 4, I was shocked to see that none of the three mainstream print editions mentioned above had anything about what happened on that day in 1968 — no editorials, no black and white photographs with an extended cutline, no news stories with a contemporary flavor — nothing. I wondered why their editors had allowed such a blatant omission to occur. I wanted to believe that the decision had been made in order to accommodate space for reports that were more urgent, more life-shattering, more “newsworthy” than saving a column or two to recall that day in Memphis when the collective Black community shuddered in disbelief — an emotion that for some would quickly evolve into sorrow, bitterness and rage.
We will never know how the world and this country may have been different had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not been murdered. But we do know how our “drum major for peace,” in the short span of 39 years, showed Americans of all races — even those from other places on the globe, that other options could and should exist within the family called the human race.
Others have followed his lead and taken up his dream, adjusting it, revising it, modernizing it for the day at hand. Some have taken up their cross as Dr. King did, adding another brick or two in the continuing process of building the Beloved Community.
As a Black man in America, I feel compelled to question and criticize journalists who ignored the significance of April 4, 1968, in our country’s and the world’s histories. Then I quickly move on — retelling the story like the in that same fervor employed by the griots of old. It doesn’t matter if those from the “mainstream” said nothing. As for Black America, we cannot, we shall not, we must not ever forget.