The Cameras: From Martin Luther King to Today


Police Arresting Martin Luther King
04 Sep 1958, Montgomery, Alabama, USA — Police officers O.M. Strickland and J.V. Johnson apply force in arresting the Reverend Martin Luther King for loitering near a courtroom where one of his integration lieutenants was on the stand. King charged he was beaten and choked by the arresting officers. Police denied the charges. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

In a time when we had far less camera coverage and television; before cell phones and selfies, Martin Luther King used the power of the video camera to expose the ugly face of racism, hate and injustice. It was a painful and humiliating fight that eventually cost him his own life, however, no other fight against racism has been more effective and has indeed accomplished more. Martin Luther King understood that only light drives out darkness. Even as racism continues to be a reality in our nation today, it is no longer politically correct to be a racist; that is, thanks to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.

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         The video cameras recorded the vulgar language and the evil philosophy of the white man against the black race. Racism existed in a far worst fashion than today! It was open, unashamed and widely accepted as the norm. We witnessed high ranked political figures, police officers and sheriffs referring to our people as “niggers” on national television. They did not lose their jobs, but were held as heroes! The cameras showed it all, not as a movie or television show, but as something real.

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         The cameras showed how black men were beaten, pushed around, sucker punched, and pushed down by the pressure of firefighter’s water hoses. The whole world saw how the white man did not even pull back their hatred against the black woman and the black child. The same white man who opened the car doors for the white lady and who removed his hat in her presence; did not have any problem addressing our black women like animals and calling our children “little niggers.”

Martin Luther King Escorting Children
20 Sep 1966, Grenada, Mississippi, USA — Dr. Martin Luther King is shown leading a group of black children to their newly integrated school in Grenada, Mississippi, escorted by folk singer Joan Baez and two aides, Andy Young (L) and Hosea Williams (next to Baez). — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

         Do you remember the first time you heard your voice on a voice recording? Do you remember how you felt when you first saw yourself on video? The cameras shook the conscience of our nation; as our nation was able to see, for the first time, how hate looks like on T.V. Some white folks were uninvolved, some did not see anything wrong, but were transformed and had an immediate change of heart when they saw hate on prime time T. V. We must remember that some of our white brothers and sisters died for the cause of freedom too.

         Many more cameras are rolling today than in the 50s and 60s. But what do we see now? Do we see excessive force? Yes we do! Are the cameras showing police brutality; not always, but enough to be an issue. Police officers are held by higher standards; they exist to protect us. When we have an off day at work, well, we sacrifice somebody’s paper work. When a police officer has an off day, maybe, just maybe, somebody will die that day! The cameras are showing one too many cases of officers disregarding life and taking a life without considering other options or other levels of appropriate force. The cameras are there to judge the unjustifiable from the justifiable.

         I know, I know, some reading this article will bring up the statistics, the streets of Chicago and the fact that more black men are dying at the hands of other black men. Oh I know; the number of white police officers intervening with blacks is enormous compared to the little percent that ends up in a shootings and more less deaths. The issue that I have is that perhaps we are missing the value of one soul; perhaps we are bringing down the value of life. My bible tells me that everything in this world can’t compare to the value of a single soul (Matthew 16:26 / Mark 8:36). I am not endorsing the Black Lives Matter in any way; I believe that is led by a bunch of hateful and confuse kids; but the soul of a black man is as valuable as any other soul; so one unjust killing is one too many.

         But what is it that the cameras are showing today? Can we hear the eloquence of Dr. Martin Luther King and his followers in the black voices of today? Malcolm X had a more aggressive speech, as aggressive as it got during those dangerous days; but was he making sense? Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had two different styles of fighting, but neither one of them were enticing ignorance. Malcolm X advocated for self-defense; if you mess with him, he was ready to retaliate back with whatever means necessary. Dr. King was a cry for love, for peace, reconciliation and unity. His message was sealed with his blood.

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         The cameras today are showing a whole different story. The cameras are showing us destroying businesses, stealing from our own people and disrespecting even those officers who are doing their jobs lawfully. The cameras are showing how we are disrespecting each other, destroying the very neighborhoods we grew up in; how we are more eager for violence than for facts and truth. On live television, for the whole world to see, the cameras are showing our ignorance as we attempt to fight darkness with more darkness.

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
FERGUSON, MO – AUGUST 11: Protesters are forced by police from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown who was killed Saturday in this suburban St. Louis community. Yesterday 32 arrests were made after protests turned into rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

         This fight is ineffective and destructive, and will, at the end, accomplish nothing for the betterment of our people and of our nation. The cameras today are showing a nation in trouble; a nation infected with bitterness; a nation filled with unforgiveness on one side and historical myopias on the other; a nation who worships and honors the founding fathers, but closes their eyes to our historical injustices, a nation more enraged about men not standing for our national anthem than for those whom are unjustly gunned down. Something is wrong when we are selective in what tragedies to never forget and honor and what lives matter and what lives do not.

         This is a nation of policies and procedures. When something goes wrong, policies and procedures are expected to change; but when a life is unjustly gunned down by a police officer, we make excuses; “nobody is perfect”; “officers make mistakes too” and so on.

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         The narrative of “hands up, don’t shoot” is based on a lie; facts confirm that; but can we take responsibility for a man who is being physically restrained by multiple trained officers and expresses several times that he can’t breath? Can we take a look at that one? Those who always see the police, in every case, no matter what, in the right, are wrong! And those who see blacks in the right, no matter what, are wrong also.

         I challenge you to look at the camera, what is it that the camera is saying? Can you be objective? Kids disrespecting police officers, officers killing innocent people; case by case, one by one, what do you see? The cameras are showing who we are, what we have become. This is America today! The cameras are rolling!

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