A historic date has arrived. Hundreds of thousands of men and women, all ages, ethnic identities, and socioeconomic statuses are descending on the National Mall to commemorate the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as, the ceremonial second inauguration of President Barack Obama. African descendants from the Americas to Brazil are rejoicing in the proverbial realization of Dr. King’s dream. The first African-American president and first commander-in-chief to secure 50 percent of the popular vote twice since President Franklin Roosevelt will be sworn into the highest office of the land.
This occasion marks the beginning of the countdown to “Black History Month,” better known as 28 days of McDonald’s commercials lamenting the importance of celebrating black history 365 days (though the commercials only air in February) and students learning inaccurate information about slavery, Dr. King’s vision, and the biographies of other pioneers who assisted in bringing the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to fruition. D.C. natives and visitors will traipse to the MLK Memorial to offer their gratitude after Pres. Obama recites the Oath of Office with his hand firmly placed on the slain reverend’s Bible. But even as we bask in the importance of the moment and dredge up those painful images of Rosa Parks being led off the bus and Medgar Evers losing his life with his children and wife bearing witness, it is also essential for African-Americans to see beyond the dominant discourse of the Civil Rights Movement.