[Ppnews] Dr. King's Continuing Assassination(s)

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 14 15:02:27 EST 2006

November 14, 2006

<http://voxunion.com>VOXUNION MEDIA
Dr. King’s Continuing Assassination(s)
Jared A. Ball

             The picture which ran yesterday on 
the front page of the online edition of the 
Washington Post (11/13/06) said it all.  It was a 
semiotic display for the ages.  Reverend Jesse 
Jackson consoling the inconsolable Andrew Young 
at the recent dedication of the King 
memorial.  The embrace of two men whose careers 
have been tied first to the coat-tails of the 
real, living, revolutionary Dr. King and then to 
the falsely constructed image of a “dreamer” 
whose authentic politics have been suppressed 
beneath the weight of propped up fraudulent 
replacements.  To this must be added that the 
photographed embrace took place at a memorial 
whose final construction will rest between 
monuments to Lincoln and Jefferson two men who 
did nothing for Black emancipation yet whose own 
reconstructed images are those of liberators (for 
example and details see Leronne Bennett’s Forced 
Into Glory).  The image of Jackson and Young 
embracing is, however, best read as a semiotic 
exercise or a deconstruction of its meaning.  It 
fully demonstrates the existence of a societal 
need to memorialize a constructed meaning of King 
while destroying the real legacy of the man.  The 
photograph and its prominent placement in one of 
the nation’s leading newspapers – before even 
reading a story that is actual anti-history – 
carries its own significance as we are confronted 
(assaulted) with images which represent a 
continuing assassination of King and his 
replacement with acceptable (i.e. fraudulent) 
“leadership” (at least somewhat properly 
explained in Norman Kelley’s The Head Negro in 
Charge Syndrome: The Dead End of Black 
Politics).  The image of the embrace, the 
location of the memorial, the very fact of the 
memorial are all symbols of the kind of 
devolution of radicalism that has marked this post-assassination era.

             Each year we at Voxunion attempt to 
remind our audience of this continued 
devolution.  Each year we undertake the challenge 
of unearthing the “real” King, what he said, what 
his goals were, why he was killed and by 
whom.  We attempt to bring attention to this 
post-King backward slide as partially detailed in 
the last two annual reports from 
<http://www.faireconomy.org>United For a Fair 
Economy (UFE), those titled State of the 
Dream.  These studies highlight how King’s dream 
has become what he himself once described as a 
“nightmare.”  They demonstrate the Black American 
continued devolution in key areas such as 
healthcare, wealth, education, housing and 
incarceration.  And they help explain the need 
and mission of re-imaging or 
image-reconstruction.  The image-making that 
Malcolm X had long ago described as an American 
“science” has all but made recognition of this 
devolving reality impossible.  This week’s events 
here in Washington, DC continue to prove that 
point true.  Essential are semiotic readings of 
this kind of imagery used as weaponry against, in 
this case, Black American struggle.  In her 
brilliant book Methodology of the Oppressed Chela 
Sandoval brings clarity to this point.  She notes 
the example of a seminal semiotician Roland 
Barthes and, in particular, his deconstruction of 
a 1956 image of a young African boy in French 
military regalia standing in full salute.  The 
Washington Post picture of Jackson and Young 
needs to be read in precisely the same 
manner.  As Sandoval explains, in part quoting 
Barthes, “‘there is no better answer’ to white 
French citizens nervous about the moral benefits 
of conquest and colonization than the ‘zeal’ that 
emanates from this image of the young soldier as 
he serves his ‘oppressors.’”  Here too the 
same.  The image of Jackson and Young serves our 
oppressors by continuing to reassure white (and 
Black) America of the ultimate moral benefit to 
enslavement, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, repression 
of Black struggle, imprisonment or forced exile 
of radical activists, continuing police brutality 
and gross inequalities in wealth.  The weeping 
survivors of that struggle are shown to very 
publicly remind today’s world of its improvement 
sad only over the absence of the man who is said 
to have brought us here but not over the absence 
of the equality the precise struggle for which the man had to be killed.

             Jackson and Young both continue to 
have post-King careers which consist of decidedly 
anti-King political maneuvering.  This includes, 
but is certainly not limited to, support for 
imperialists (Young’s work for the Bush family 
and Wal-Mart), the reduction of anti-capitalist 
challenges which included calls to redistribute 
wealth, abolish inhumane living conditions, and 
the establishment of a national minimum income 
into coercing contracts for a handful of Black 
firms (Jackson’s Wall Street Project), and both 
have abandoned the kinds of mass organizing and 
permanent demonstrations designed to make 
impossible the normal order of business.  Instead 
the two have opted for empty rhetoric, 
camera-chasing and blatant support of corporate 
(white) supremacy.  Their societal function has 
never been more vividly displayed.  The 
Washington Post, in serving its own societal 
function, has yet again unmasked their own.  Just 
as Sandoval illustrates Barthes’ notion that 
“image now represents an ideology” one in support 
of “colonial empire” we can see how the Post uses 
the image of Jackson and Young to support an 
imperial ideology of American “progress” or 
societal “advances” since the time of King.  The 
image, as Sandoval describes, comes to “function 
as the constructed ‘artifact’ of a particular 
social force.”  In this case that “social force” 
is one of masking the continued need for King’s 
biting analytical critiques of capitalism, 
militarism, white supremacy and the fakery of 
white liberalism.  King’s legend, being too large 
to omit entirely, must now be reconstructed.  The 
paradox of course, in the words of Fanon, is that 
King’s image, and those of the fraudulent 
replacements, “testifies against” the man himself 
and against the communities he once struggled to liberate.

help facilitate a greater understanding of King 
we offer the following PDF of his own often 
omitted statements/views available to anyone for download.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an assistant professor of 
communication studies at Morgan State 
University.  He is editor of the Words, Beats and 
Life Journal of Hip-Hop and Global Culture and is 
also the founder and creator of FreeMix Radio: 
The Original Mixtape Radio Show, a rap music 
mixtape committed to the practice of underground 
emancipatory journalism.  He and his work can be 
found online at <http://voxunion.com>VOXUNION.COM.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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