CLINGMAN: The Five M's

James Clingman | 10/9/2013, 3 p.m.
My 20 years as a columnist for the National Newspaper Publishers Association would not be complete without an article about ...
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

My 20 years as a columnist for the National Newspaper Publishers Association would not be complete without an article about five people whom I hold in high esteem – five people from whom I have learned about sacrifice, commitment, dedication, honor, and character; and five people who hold a special place in most, if not all of our hearts and minds. They are Marcus, Medgar, Malcolm, Martin, and Maynard. No last names necessary, right?

Although I have many lesser known brothers and sisters that I deeply admire and respect, I chose these five for two reasons: Virtually all of my readers know about them and their accomplishments; and these particular men, collectively, represent the basic characteristics and ideals I have written about for years. Not to slight the sisters, I could have also chosen Mary McLeod Bethune, Harriet Tubman and Barbara Jordan.

I will go with The Five M’s, however, and do my best to give them the acclaim and respect they deserve, while at the same time try to give you something upon which to reflect and a model to emulate.

Marcus Garvey, whose accomplishments of rallying more than 6 million people, raising some $10 million, and starting business enterprises along the way, was a Black man who strongly believed in and practiced economic empowerment for Africans in America.

Marcus personified strength, commitment, fearlessness, and most of all, love for Black people (Listen to his passionate words on Blackonomics.com – Videos). He was highly intelligent and always undeterred by his detractors. Oh, to think what could have been, if Booker T. had not died when Marcus was making his way to meet him in 1915. Working together, I believe those two giants would have “shocked the world.” Garvey died at 53.

Medgar Evers, an unrelenting fighter for civil rights in Mississippi, exuded bravery. Despite the daily threats to his life, he continued to stand up for his people until that fateful night in 1963 when he was shot down in front of his home with his precious children and loving wife, Myrlie, nearby. Knowing his life and that of his family were always in jeopardy, he did what was right in the face of constant danger. Assassinated at the young age of 38, he will always hold a place in our history for his work, his example, and his love for his people.

Malcolm X, a pit bull, was bold and tenacious. His name connotes strong will and purpose. Ossie Davis said, “Malcolm kept snatching our lies away. He kept shouting the painful truth we whites and blacks did not want to hear from all the housetops. And he wouldn’t stop for love or money.” Unafraid, open-minded, highly intelligent, resolute, and much more, Malcolm dedicated precious years of his life, of course to his family, but also to educating and demonstrating to the world, and black people in particular, that we should move beyond mere rhetoric, that Black folks should “get real” and do what must be done to secure an economic future. Also assassinated, he lived to be 39.