Throughout my tenure as a student in the American education system, I have always been taught that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in all senses of the word, a pacifist. I was educated to understand his methods and manifestations of the fight for justice for African-Americans, as centered on non-violence and even, some willingness of complacency. 

In all, I was always taught to understand his position in Black history to be in direct opposite, if not, conflict with the position of EL Hajj Malik El Shabazz, also known as, Malcolm X.

This was the norm of understanding taught to me, not only in school, but also at home, via family-owned Black history books. As far as I could think back, from possibly the age of 2 or 3, I knew about great leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Minister Malcolm X, and this how I always understood them.

I understood the legacy of Dr. King to be grounded in self sacrifice, patience and Godly peace. In essence, King was always presented in some way or another, as a White apologists, or what we call in the Black community, the ‘house nigger’ (a person that is appeasing, and even, conciliatory toward the dominant White society).

Minister Malcolm, I was taught, on the other hand-built a legacy on combative, non- compromising, anti-White and even, quasi pro- hate. He was the quintessential ‘field nigger,’ always conspiring against the White community and its norms. Malcolm was ‘the radical.

In essence, at least to the Black community, Minister Malcolm was a great leader for the advancement of Black people, but he led the radical other half of the Civil Rights Movement, thus, dubbed as the leader of the ‘Black Nationalist’ Movement.

Dr. King was ‘the dreamer.’ He was the dominant leader, a more acceptable example of Black principles and thus, was dubbed the leader of the ‘Civil Right’ Movement. Yet, interestingly enough, it was Dr. King’s followers, who, in large response to the devastating blow of his assassination, formed and led what was eventually dubbed the ‘Black Power’ Movement.

“The key to honoring and giving praise to the truth and existence of great legacies, and the people and things that created them, is to in fact, praise and honor their truth.”

I highlight the contrast of Dr. King and Minister Malcolm’s legacies as definitive examples of the intentional and institutionalized deceit and defamation of their true history. The key to honoring and giving praise to the truth and existence of great legacies, and the people and things that created them, is to in fact, praise and honor their truth.

The truth of who they truly were, good or bad. The truth of what they truly stood for, righteous or not. The truth of how they truly left this world, honorable or not. The honor, the good and the righteousness live on in the truth of the legacy, not our perception of the legacy.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be 86 years old today, if he were living in the flesh. It has almost been 47 years since his spirit left this earth, and in such, it has also been 47 years since the truth of his existence has been honored. Since the day Dr. King passed on, the mainstream media with the most agency and influence, has remained dictated to the derailment of the honorable truth in  his real legacy.

So, this year, in honor of the 86 years of life Dr. King didn’t get to live, and the timeless commitment and sacrifice he offered to the world in exchange of that lost life, may we all truly honor his real legacy.

May we be encouraged to use the advantages of today, from unprecedented access to information to uncharted development of resources and tools, to become more informed. May we research, explore, inquire, reconstruct and design new, undiscovered, overlooked and invalidated stories, histories and legacies.

With that, I will present you with 10 impactful quotes, between now and Jan. 19th, which are sure to encourage many of you to reexamine the legacy you believed you knew about Dr. King.

And while you’re at it, bake a cake, light some candles and sing Happy Birthday to so much more than a man, but a prophet in his own right. Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King Jr!!! Thank you for your priceless and timeless sacrifice!