EDITOR’S COLUMN: Blacks Must Remember April 4 — Even If ‘Mainstream’ America Forgets

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. (Courtesy photo)

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.

About D. Kevin McNeir – Washington Informer Editor 158 Articles

Award-winning journalist, book editor, voice-over specialist and author with 17 years in the industry. Currently an education and religion beat reporter for The Washington Informer. But I also tackle local (D.C. and Maryland) politics, entertainment, business and health articles to maintain my edge.

Born and raised in Motown and a staunch Wolverine – that is a graduate of the University of Michigan, I left corporate America (IBM) to pursue my passion for writing, accepting a beat reporter’s gig under the tutelage of the late Sam Logan, founding publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. I continued to hone my craft at N’DIGO Magapaper, Windy City Times and The Wednesday Journal, all in Chicagoland; the Atlanta Voice and The Miami Times. I’ve been fortunate to be chosen twice as the Feature Writer of the Year by the Chicago Association of Black Journalists. Later, as the senior editor of one of the country’s oldest Black-owned newspapers, The Miami Times, I helped my staff bring home the NNPA’s highest honor – Publication of the Year, 2001. That same year I picked up first and second place awards for news and feature writing, respectively, also from the NNPA.

Today I’m based in the nation’s capital where I’m honored to serve as the editor for The Washington Informer. Recognizing the importance of education, I’ve earned two master’s degrees from Emory University, Summa Cum Laude and Princeton Theological Seminary, majoring in theology and philosophy.

If I can slow down, I may actually complete and publish a collection of essays I’ve been working on for many years, “Growing up Motown,” sharing childhood memories of experiences with musical legends like Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston, the Four Tops, the Miracles, Gladys Knight and Take Six. My favorite foods: spinach, lasagna, pancakes and Oysters Rockefeller. My mom, 86, always my “best friend” and “cheerleader,” now lives with me and she brings me great joy. I’m a fiercely protective yet encouraging father and grandfather always down for traveling, shopping or celebrating the natural beauty of God’s world. I live by the following words: “Less is more” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

You can reach me on Twitter (@dkevinmcneir), Facebook (Kevin McNeir) or via e-mail, mcneirdk@washingtoninformer.com