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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution II
(1968)

Killens, John Oliver
Editorial comment: the black writer and the revolution,   pp. 395-[400] PDF (6.0 MB)


Page 398

398      Rehabilitation Week. It's time for us to
help Uncle Tom straighten up and straighten
out his back and throw his shoulders
back, and come on home.
Black writers must contribute to the creation
of a Black Vision for society. For four
centuries our vision has been a white
Western-oriented vision. We have looked
at our black selves through the eyes of
white America. We are the only people on
earth whose God was created in the image
of another man, and that is psychological
homicide. Suicide? We have worshiped a
Messiah with pale face and blue eyes.
And this is not to derogate Jesus Christ.
I have nothing but profound respect and
admiration for him. I believe that Jesus
lived. Yes - I believe he was the great
revolutionary of his time.
I believe that was why they lynched him.
There is every indication that he was a man
of color.
But now that Medgar and Malcolm and
Martin have departed, it must be said
that black folk need not look for their
Messiah any longer. They have come,
they have given the word, fought the good
fight, and they have been crucified.
Brothers and sisters, did you not take
notice of the full eclipse of the moon a
few nights after Martin's funeral, several
years before it was predicted and expected
by the awesome men of science? The
Messiahs have gone and we must create a
new calendar for black people and for the
disinherited all over this terrible wonderful
earth. Everything Before Martin must be
dated "B. M." Everything After Martin,
After the Messiahs, must be dated "A. M."
And be you not fooled, brothers and
sisters, by the public washing of hands and
the oceans of obscene tears the nation
wept the other week over television over
the passing of our Messiah. It was, for the
most part, strictly a command performance,
a three ring circus of hypocrisy. Leaders,
preachers, politicians, all of them leaping
upon the bandwagon, shamelessly
expurgating centuries of guilt, trying to
"psych" black people into thinking that
they really cared. It was a revolting
sight - all those killers weeping at the
bier. It reminded me of the old time
Mafia movies, with the gangster killers
attending the funeral dressed in black,
bringing with them tons of flowers, standing
at the grave weeping with the widow,
with their guns almost in evidence
underneath their jackets. If all of Martin's
mourners had truly loved him, he would
not have been crucified. The kindest
thing we can say for them, these honorable
representative of the power structure, is
that for centuries they helped to set the
stage for this Great American Tragedy.
Where were they when Martin languished
in their jails? Where were they when he
walked around this world preaching
peace on earth and love for all mankind?
Where were they when his enemies sicked
their dogs on him and beat him with
their clubs? Where were they when they
nailed him to the cross? How could the
men-of-war who run this government have
truly loved Martin, when he fought against
their atrocious war in Viet Nam? And
where were we, brothers and sisters, when
they nailed our Martin to the cross?
Were we there?
Martin was my valued friend. There were
certain things about which we disagreed
vis-a-vis the tactics of the Revolution. But
I knew he was a revolutionary, and I loved
him and respected him, and I am angry
past description at the way we let him
down. We must build a monument to
Brother Medgar, Malcolm and Martin. The
three M's. M is for Messiah. We must
construct a monument, not built of stone
and mortar, but forged out of their great
vision, the vision for freedom and
liberation; the vision that the disinherited
shall inherit the earth.
Their vision calls upon black writers to write
our own black history, create our own
myths and legends. Washington and
Jefferson do not belong to our black
children. They are not the founding fathers
of our black children; they are not our
legendary heroes; they were our foreparents'
slavemasters. No amount of falsification
of history can disguise this brutal fact.
Our legendary heroes are Nat Turner, Fred
Douglass, Denmark Vesey, Harriet Tubman,
Sojourner Truth, Toussaint L'Overture,
white John Brown and Red Sitting Bull.
And Garvey and DuBois and Robeson and
Medgar and Malcolm and Martin and
many thousands more, of whom most of
us have never heard.
One of the cruelest acts of Western man
was to build a fence between man and man
and thereby sentence humankind to


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