Martin Unchained: MLK Jr. if the South Had Won the War

Askia Muhammad | 1/16/2013, 11:38 a.m.

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.