He was, sadly, assassinated the very next day in a Memphis motel. You wonder how the Civil Rights leader, dead at 39, would feel about Obama being elected president if he were still alive at 81. But more to the point, it also feels like Martin Luther King’s legacy has already been, I don’t know, forgotten? I mean, not exactly, but he’s the most singular icon for civil rights and yet, as far as we’ve come in race relations, it never seems like we’ve come far enough.
Professor Cornell West warns us all to not ignore his legacy or “sanitize” it. “Even with your foot on the brake, there are too many precious brothers and sisters under the bus,” West said of Obama. “Where is the talk about poverty? We’ve got to protect him and respect him, but we’ve also got to correct him if the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is going to stay alive.”