From time to time, folks like to speculate about how things might have been different in life, "if only..."
If only New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and receiver David Tyree had not combined to execute the greatest play in football history on Feb. 3, 2008, where Tyree caught a pass with his helmet; then the New England Patriots would have ended the greatest football season ever by winning the Super Bowl and going undefeated (19-0) that season.
If only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had not been secretly recorded telling supporters that 47 percent of the American electorate are shiftless ne'er-do-wells who only want free stuff from the government, and don't take responsibility for their own lives, then maybe that Republican nominee might have been elected president in 2012.
If only Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's forces had been able to penetrate the defenses of Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac on July 3, 1863, at the bloodiest battle in American history, where as many as 51,000 Union and Confederate troops perished in the Battle of Gettysburg, then maybe the South might have won the Civil War, and America's "peculiar institution" (slavery) might have prevailed on into the 20th century.
At this special time in history when the second inauguration of the first Black president of the United States takes place on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday with President Barack Obama's hand on Holy Bibles once owned by Dr. King and by Civil War President Abraham Lincoln; at this time I am intrigued with the thought of what would have become of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, had he been born and bred in the Confederate State of Georgia.
I am encouraged by King's own observation: "The Arc of the Moral Universe is long, but it bends towards Justice."
Certainly by Dec. 1, 1955, the day Mrs. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala. bus, the birth date of the modern Civil Rights movement in our real world, slavery would most likely have been dead or on its deathbed even in the make-believe world of the "modern" Confederate States of America.
I reckon that Martin Luther King, Jr. this bold, courageous, deeply spiritual man, might possibly have been moved to action similar to that of another bold, courageous, deeply spiritual man, which happened in the Deep South about 98 years before King was born. This act was perpetrated by a deeply religious slave who was often seen fasting, praying or immersed in reading the stories of the Bible.
The slave's name was Nat – Nat Turner. Nat, like Martin who came later, was a man of "natural intelligence and quickness of apprehension surpassed by few." Nat often conducted Baptist church services preaching the Bible to his fellow slaves who dubbed him "The Prophet." This man, Nat, was convinced that he "was ordained for some great purpose in the hands of the Almighty," and interestingly he also had influence on White people, where in one case he was even able to convince a White man to "cease from his wickedness." In August 1831 Nat led the bloodiest slave uprising in American history.
I reckon that Martin – like Nat who was hanged in November 1831; like Gabriel Prosser who lived from 1776 to 1800; like Denmark Vesey who lived until 1822; like David Walker who lived until 1830; like Frederick Douglass who lived until 1895; like Henry McNeal Turner who lived until 1915; and like Michael King (Martin Luther King Sr.) who was born in 1899 – I reckon that Martin's life would have been an extension of the lives of those courageous, spiritual men, like shingles on a roof.
But instead of the non-violent path which his life followed in the United States of America – a land of laws and not men – I reckon that in the Confederate States of America where no law protected men like Martin from becoming the property of other men, Martin's life would have known no such non-violent shackles. Indeed, I reckon, "some great purpose in the hands of the Almighty" would have certainly given us "Martin Unchained," a man like Nat Turner.
Decades ago, Dr. John Henrik Clarke explained the ethos of Nat Turner, of "Martin Unchained," had he lived in my Confederate America. "Once you are enslaved and once you are in servitude you have no moral obligation to the people who have enslaved you. In enslaving you, they have freed you of all moral obligations because the nature of their enslavement of you says that you are without humanity, without manhood, without womanhood, without dignity and anything you do to get those things back is morally justified." That's my Martin Unchained.