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April 3rd, 2009
11:49 AM ET

Surviving Jena Six: The dreams of Mychal Bell

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/01/15/mychal.bell/art.bell.closeup.cnn.jpg caption="After the Jena arrest, Mychal Bell was released in late 2007 and agreed to a plea deal."]

Mychal Bell
For The Global Grind

My name is Mychal Bell and I was one of the Jena Six that was charged with attempted murder down in Jena, Louisiana in 2006. As of now, seeing that we have a black president, and with the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. tomorrow, I wanted to share with you my dream like Dr. King shared his dream with everybody. I even had the chance, although I was in shackles and handcuffs, to meet Martin Luther King III, when he came to visit me in prison. So, I feel like I have a connection to the King family.

When I look back at the day that I got in a fight with Justin Barker at my high school, I now realize that I should have done what Dr. King preached, which was non-violence. A few months before the fight, I remember seeing nooses hung from a tree at my school, and none of the few black students knew who was responsible. But, what came to my mind was images of Mississippi burning, seeing how black people were hung and killed, and it felt very disrespectful. In the small town that I grew up in, I had always felt that black people and white people didn't get along. After all, this was Louisiana.

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August 9th, 2008
06:40 PM ET

Being Black in America

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/03/art.martinlutherkingiiib.jpg width=292 height=320]

Martin Luther King, III

There is an important conversation taking place across the nation regarding being Black in America. It may be characterized by three questions Blacks seem to be asking: From where have we come? Where are we now? And, where do we go from here? CNN’s “Black in America“ documentary is a fresh and compelling entry, focusing more on the second question than on the others. One very noticeable thing about the documentary is that it joins a new cast of characters, from academicians to journalists, entertainers to everyday citizens, who are not the faces and voices traditionally associated with the subject.

This crew, colorful and articulate, is empowered by 24/7 cable news and the unfettered reach of the Internet. They are a new generation of thinkers and doers, impatient with the status quo, who feel “the fierce urgency of now.” They are telling of a tectonic change in the plates that undergird our long-held understandings of being Black in America. And, they are challenged by the opportunities most ardently symbolized in the remarkable story unfolding in this year’s presidential election.

But, not so new is the “now-not yet” tension one feels observing being Black in America today. During the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-twentieth century, my father wrote eloquently of a similar anxiety in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. Then the tension was between African Americans’ “now”, who wanted speedy redress to segregation, and many whites’ “not yet”, particularly, among the clergy, who protested the Movement’s demands for immediate remedies as untimely. FULL POST

July 24th, 2008
04:12 PM ET

Martin Luther King III on “Black in America”

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET


We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/03/art.martinlutherkingiiib.jpg width=292 height=320]

Martin Luther King, III

One hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation, my father gave arguably the most celebrated of his speeches, “I Have a Dream.” On that day, a gathering of strangers a quarter of a million strong came to hear what it meant to be Black in America. Using his brush of eloquence, he painted the picture of where the typical Black in America lived: On a lonely “island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”

Like 1963’s March on Washington, CNN’s documentary, Black in America, is a gathering of sorts. Exponentially greater in numbers and certainly less familiar with each other, its viewers gathered to see vignettes that dramatize the continuing shameful condition that my father spoke of nearly 40 days short of 40 years ago. The condition he spoke of then demonstrated that American Blacks were not free.

FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America • Martin Luther King III • T1
April 3rd, 2008
07:04 PM ET

As America remembers my father...

ALT TEXT
Martin Luther King III, son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., shares his thoughts with the 360blog on the 40th anniversary of his father's assassination, and where we go from here.

As America remembers my father this week, I find myself reflecting on his great dream and the amazing strides we have made as a nation towards accomplishing the dream.  We have had two African-Americans serve as Secretary of State and in this exciting election either a woman or an African-American will be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States of America.  I am proud of the instrumental role my father had in bringing about systemic change and I draw strength from knowing so many people are working to continue this change and accomplish his dream.

My reflection on my father also leads me to his immense passion to overcome economic injustice.  A passion that is evident in his final sermon, given at the National Cathedral on March 31st, 1968, in which he declared, “There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”  Sadly, forty years have passed and absolutely no strides have been made to combat poverty.

Therefore, as I look back on my father’s great work and incredible life, I am also looking forward to continuing that work and honoring his life.  I am looking forward to Americans rolling up their sleeves, joining together and working to bring about a systemic change that will forever rid the world of economic injustice, as my father asked us all to do forty years later. 

For this reason, I recently urged our Presidential candidates to publicly vow to appoint a cabinet level poverty officer, an officer with the sole goal of ending the economic injustice that oppresses so many Americans.  With over 36 million people living in poverty, 12 million of them children, something needs to be done and it needs to be done now.  The President has a nation to run and a world to work with, but a cabinet officer can have the sole dedication to ending poverty. 

It is a privilege to share with all of you today.  Please keep the discussion going, roll up your sleeves and help us to realize my father’s dream.

– Martin Luther King III

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