On April 3, 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech. In it he said, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead, but it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”
The following day as if he had prophesied his own death, Dr. King was killed. So we never will know what he saw when he got to the mountaintop. However, 56 years later, I cannot believe that the state of Black America today is the Promised Land of which he spoke.
I believe that the Promised Land can be one of our own choosing. But to get there, Black Folks will have to embark on something we don’t take kindly to. That is personal responsibility. We are still so brainwashed into believing that White Supremacy is the roadblock to all success that many don’t even attempt to make it to the mountaintop.
In 2013, former CNN host Don Lemon laid out a basic roadmap for ways in which the Black community could get to the Promised Land. Ten years later, what he said still rings true. His five points to attainment were:
5) Pull up your pants. There is nothing more disgusting than seeing men walking around with their underwear showing. It is a fashion fad that should have long since passed.
4) Using the N-word. No other group has embraced negative stereotype labeling and managed to self-perpetuate it more amongst themselves than Black people.
3) Respect where you live. The filth thrown on the ground looks bad, feeds rodents, and in general shows a complete disregard for the community.
2) Finish school. Education is the solution — at least a high school diploma, followed by college, trade school or skills training. Not a single one of our ancestors came out of slavery without some sort of skill.
1) Family first. Every child deserves a nuclear family. Delay parenthood until one is stable financially, emotionally and physically able to meet the demands of raising children in the 21st century.
I want to add a sixth point. And that is the Black community’s total acceptance of profanity as part of our daily speech pattern. From the use of MF as a noun, pronoun, verb, adjective and prepositional phrase, we have embraced the foulness of it all with a passion. The same with using the popular term for excrement to describe everything from food to drink to personal possessions. It has become so common that many forget that they are dirty words. Grown men and women espouse the words in front of children with no regard.
We do not have any Black leadership that has taken on the task of being a moral authority. However, we can all begin to be intolerant of the things that hinder our progress toward the Promised Land.