(The following are speeches given during MLK Day events in Florida)
Lenny McAllister: MLK Day Celebration in Ocala, FL (2010 January 18 (“MLK Day, Furthering The Dream of Yesterday, and Waking Up for a Better Future”))
People may wonder why it was important to me to come with prepared words to address you today. Many of you may state – and rightfully so- that we gather today to honor the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man that was moved by the Spirit to move a nation towards a better way of life. And you would be right – Dr. King was a man that used his connection to the Holy Spirit to dare to have The Dream. At the same time, my fellow Americans, he also had action items, and without action items – along with a network of leaders and fellow dreamers – we would not have a MLK Day each year and chances are that we would not have the expression of civil rights that we enjoy today. Therefore, I come to you with action items to further Dr. King’s dream and ask that we honor the man and his memory with more than just talk of dreams.
President Lincoln used a speech that started “4 score and 7 years ago” in order to call his beleaguered countrymen to continue their march towards unity of our nation during its most trying hour. Now, here we come today, 2 score and 7 years past the date of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, speaking up in order to call our beleaguered communities to act so that we can continue our march towards equal rights as Americans, equal opportunities as contributors to our nation, and equal kindred in the brotherhood of prosperity and visionary leadership of this great land.
King’s efforts and sacrifices came those scores of years ago, but our time to continue his accomplishments and dream is right now. It is before us here in the Sunshine State. It is in our hands in each state of Lincoln’s Union.
Without the sustained march towards realizing the fullest details of King’s Dream, we are hampered in our march towards bettering our fellow man. Although we are capable and encouraged to help the victims in Haiti through the epic tragedy they are incurring, we are limited in restoring their communities if we lag behind in our societal, educational, and economic potential here in America. Although it is best to encourage and mentor our schoolchildren today with the pursuits of their youth, we are limited in leading our children into a prosperous future if we impede our discipline, communicative channels, and networking relationships that could make the difference in their lives with limiting stereotypes, outdated misunderstandings, and esteem for others and ourselves. Although we are free from slavery, Jim Crow, and many glass ceilings from the American past, we are boxed into probabilities of failure and disappointment if we are not willing to actively work towards being freer than the previous generation, healthier than we were just a year ago, and better than we were just yesterday.
Dr. King worked aside a network of leaders and everyday Americans. He came at a time when America needed a dream – a new vision for what the United States could be once united past the impediments of racism and self-limitations. He came with a Dream that talked about his children being equal but spoke to America about opening up its potential to becoming a superpower of wealth, might, and ethical esteem throughout the world by shedding its racism of the past and embracing the moment to be historic.
President Lincoln had Americans such as Frederick Douglass to push him to greater heights as the Great Emancipator, just as Dr. King had Freedom Fighters and others that believed in the push for Civil Rights.
Lincoln noted change “4 score and 7 years ago” during his time in Gettysburg to reunite America. King told us 2 score and 7 years ago that he had a dream for a better time for America.
Today, I say that it is time to even the scores throughout America.
It is time for us to even the scores of our schoolchildren with others as they have fallen behind other American children in the classroom. It is time to demand better facilities, better teachers, and better school options with our tax money. A better educated child will be a more active citizen in our communities and a source of pride for Black America as an adult.
It is time for us to even the scores in the job market, as African-Americans are still more likely to be last-hired and first-fired. It is time to even the playing field, one that today sees that Black men are twice as likely to be unemployed with college degrees as other American men with similar levels of education. It is time to ensure that equality is not just a slogan from the past, but it is an umbrella promise for the future for all Americans.
It is time for us to even the scores and lessen the rate of disease, disillusionment, and even death at our own hands. It is time to even the scores within the fields of health care, crime, and chivalry once again with other Americans. It is time for us to stop killing each other with our diets. It is time for us to stop killing each other with weapons. It is time to stop killing each other’s esteem with disrespect for our women. It is time for Black pride to rise up through teaching Black love, Black self-respect, Black family unity, and Black chivalry and stop speaking solely with a tone of blaming others, looking outside our communities for solutions, and embracing sub-standard realities for our children and grandchildren. King led the disadvantaged towards equality with self-empowerment. We must do the same today.
Dr. King spoke of a Dream for all of America, but he knew that he would take action within Black America for this dream to become reality. Therefore, if we are to take one thing from this MLK Day, I ask that it be this:
If Dr. King dared us to collectively Dream along with him, we must now be called to collectively wake up to honor him.
Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act towards better educational opportunities for our children immediately. Do not allow the continuing failure of the school system in our communities to continue to be the box that limits our children’s futures. The status quo of educational poverty must be replaced with a quid pro quo system that rewards educational freedom for our children and nothing else, not political allegiances or backroom deals that cut us out. Be involved as volunteers, as mentors, and as civic activists so that our children receive an education, not just schooling.
Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act towards better quality of life within Black America. Regardless of the health care fight in Washington, if we are unwilling to stop the violence against our bodies with our diets, with our physical confrontations, and with our inactivity, we will always stay behind the health care curve. Wake up to live lest we continue to die prematurely in our sleep. The time is now to change our daily habits so that we change our daily experiences.
Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act towards health care justice for Black America, making sure that we are not the most murdered in the womb and the fastest to lay in the tomb.
Wake up, brothers and sisters, and act towards embracing economic opportunities, equality, and prosperity in America. Embrace Americanism – economically, socially, and historically – with tenacity and insight. This is your nation, too – fully. The red represents our ancestors’ sacrifice. The blue represents the depth of talent that we can contribute to America’s improvement. The white represents the brightness of our future – together - should we remain engaged in upholding America - together.
There was a time for Dr. King to be historic and Dream. It is now our time to be historic and wake up into action.
If you have not contributed or volunteered to improve our communities, do so now. If you already do contribute, thank you – for now, it is time for us to do more. We must be involved in educational changes, economic changes, and personal changes daily if we are going to wake up from crisis and return to the highest pursuit of Dr. King’s Dream.
As I have written in my book, America will only be all that we can be with smaller government along with bigger people. That applies so much more to Black America and the crisis we face today in our communities.
It was a time to dream. Now, it is time to wake up and DO!
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of those bigger people when he gave us a Dream to chase after.
Now, we must be those bigger people by waking up into action so that the American Dream – along with Dr. King’s Dream – can become a greater reality for us all.
Thank you very much for your time. Thank you, Dr. King, for your love. And thank you all for what you do to improve our communities, save our children, and strengthen our nation. God Bless you all and God Bless the United States of America.
Lenny McAllister: Ocala Tea Party (2010 January 18 (“Martin Luther King Was a Tea Party Patriot”))
Good afternoon, Tea Party Patriots.
Thank you for the invitation to address you this afternoon. In a region that is part of the Sunshine State, it is refreshing to see the sunshine reflecting off of your faces today. It is a clear sign that more Americans are becoming engaged with the political processes of their communities and less likely to tolerate a government that has gone on far too long without a true sense of accountability to the Constitution of the United States, the memory of our founding fathers, and the will of a representative republic constituted by one simple phrase: We, The People.
Today, we gather here to protest the direction of government on a day where the nation commemorates the successes of one of its greatest protestors – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Like you, Dr. King saw the need for a change in how our society and government worked in his day, just as we do now. Like you, Dr. King did not wait for others to make a difference in the world – he believed in the power of people over the power of government. Like you, Dr. King saw the vision of a better America coming through the application of our unique constitution, one that guarantees the enjoyment of inalienable rights from God alone, not through false promises through expansive government that taxes us plenty to give us little. Dr. King knew that holding America to its credos as listed in our Constitution was the way to ensure equality. Just the same, we stand here today knowing that holding our current elected officials to the tenets of representative government is the way to scale back the waywardness in spending and backroom deals that we have seen in Washington, allowing us to regain the effectiveness of our collective voice in government.
In his time, Dr. King stepped outside of societal norms to change the way society operated. That is how he led the Civil Rights Movement.
In our time – right here, right now – we must step outside of politics as normal in order to change the way our government works. That is how we will lead our nation back on track and ensure that America will be a world leader for generations to come.
Dr. King led a movement of people that reclaimed the American Dream 50 years ago. You – the people of the Tea Party movement – are the current leaders that will help reclaim the American Dream for the next 50 years. King fought the good fight against government for American equality for us. Today, we fight the good fight against government for American prosperity for all.
Because of the King example that you are following, if someone comes to you and says that it was inappropriate to have a tea party today or that it was not in line with the message of Dr. Martin Luther King to protest government today, I implore you to remind them with respect that Dr. King rallied against government that restricted personal liberties, just as you are doing today. Remind them that Dr. King marched against laws that contradicted the Constitution, just as you are doing today. Remind them that Dr. King was also called a rabble-rouser, a trouble maker, and a radical without a cause, just as you are called today.
Those that think that you dishonor the memory of Dr. King by speaking out against the continuation of the abomination in Washington on MLK Day obviously do not see one simple fact: that Martin Luther King was a 20th century Tea Party Patriot.
Yes, he was – from protesting for a reality that was needed in America before others joined the fight to believing that the Constitution was a time-honored document to be followed by government, not ignored by contemporary politicians chasing partisan glory, big-money contributions, or political philosophies.
And as a Tea Party Patriot, Dr. King would encourage you to protest your government until your government fulfills the obligations enumerated in the founding laws of the land.
He would tell us something that we already know: change will come, but positive, American change will not come from free-spending politicians or big-government program. It will never come from more taxation or from more spending. It will come from the collective power of the people, not a powerful collection of politicians.
With the power of the people, change for the better does come. We have examples on both sides of the political aisle throughout American history.
Ronald Reagan started his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town historically marred by a low point in the Civil Rights fight. Yet, it was the same man – later as President Reagan – that signed into law the Martin Luther King national holiday that we celebrate today.
The Democratic Party was the party that fought for segregation against African-Americans throughout the Civil Rights era of the 20th century. Yet, it was that same Democratic Party that nominated, then supported the first Black president of the United States.
So yes, change does comes, but it only comes through the persistence of the people - people that work through obstacles of name-calling, disenfranchisement, and discouragement from the status quo to remind us of what is right, what is best, and what is American.
Tea Party people today: with your protests against the outrageous spending that is burdening our children and grandchildren with global debt, you are reminding us of doing what is right.
With your demands that we return the government to the will of the people through smaller, representative government that fosters bigger opportunities for everyday Americans, you are reminding us of what is best.
With your persistence to make your voices heard again and again, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomics, political affiliation, or location, you are reminding us of what is truly American.
You exemplify freedom of assembly. You extol the merits of freedom of speech. You make possible the freedom to prosper.
You are reminding us of what is truly American at a time when the leadership in Washington continues to moves us past a point of recognizing what made this nation so great for so many years.
We now see the desire to be popular with our enemies overseas and be seen as fair by those that attack Americans supersede the obligation of our president and his administration to put the safety of the American people first and foremost. It is time for us – the people of the United States – to remind our elected leadership in Washington that while understanding the human rights of terrorists may hold ethical merit, upholding civil rights of terrorists is unfounded at a time when giving terrorists American criminal rights in court is more important to this administration than getting the needed information to keep Americans safe in the war on terror.
2010 is the year to say clearly and continuously:
Mr. President – prioritize protecting Americans over protecting your reputation around the world.
Mr. President – the prize of a peaceful and safe American homeland will always be worth more than your Nobel Peace Prize.
Mr. President – allow us to claim victory in this war on terror without any campaign timetables before the terrorists claim any more lives.
Mr. President – you are called to be a commander-in-chief to protect our homeland from these attacks, not be a commander-in-thief in taking the nation into unmanageable debt with unsuccessful stimulus packages, cash-for-clunker schemes to uphold the broken and stubborn business model of American automakers, and a questionable national health care plan while unemployment stays unbearable and everyday Americans stay anxious about their prospects for recovery.
We cannot and will not spend our way out of this recession. Big government spending never solved our problems. American brainpower and elbow grease always have.
And that is why it is up to us.
It is up to us, fellow patriots, to remind our government that spending our tax dollars to give us more only ensures us that our government will come around for more of our tax dollars. Taxation does not ensure the prosperity of a nation. Innovation does. Commitment does. Education does. Emancipation of the people does.
Yet, we have watched billions given to banks that asked for money to unfreeze the credit market for Americans, only to watch them freeze out everyday Americans from the rebound that Wall Street experienced over the past several months. Banks have played a corrupt game of us versus them in American business, just as American career politicians have played a continuing game of us versus them in American politics for years.
It is up to us, fellow patriots – today and now – to tell these businesses that horde American prosperity with off-shoring and outsourcing during good times and taxpayer-funded bailouts during bad times that the American taxpayer is not a pawn in your personal game of greed. Without hardworking Americans to pay your goods, Mr. AIG, you are good for nothing. Everyday Americans – and their children and grandchildren – bailed you out of your mire of greed and dysfunction that led to the financial crisis, only for you to spend it on bonuses based on your incompetency. Now it is time for you to work to beat back the rising rate of unemployment. Your profit margins can only be maximized through optimizing American prosperity – and that comes only through American jobs, American workers, and American products being made in the United States of America, sold throughout the world, and winning in the global markets just as we have done for decades. I believe in the American worker – it is time that you believe in him again as well.
Big and unresponsive government restricts American workmanship. Efficient and representative government empowers it – and protects us and our prosperity. We have the talent and the willpower. I believe in the USA. It is our time to make sure that our government acts that way as well.
It is up to us, fellow patriots – today and now – to tell these politicians that our history of republican government of the people is not a roadmap for their individual fame and glory, but a structure guiding the freedom and prosperity for a nation of millions. The 4 walls of government were not built for their comfort in making illicit backroom deals to pass billion-dollar legislation with diminishing benefits for the American people. Those rooms are to be used to empower American ingenuity, encourage private solutions without increased government limitations, and invigorate the economic, social, and personal wealth of Americans – not entrench career politicians into office, particularly those that have forgotten that they serve the American people, not the other way around. It is up to us to say to these politicians in 2010 – change is going to come. Either you will change your ways of spending and of handling the business of government starting in January, or you will be surely be changing your location of business after November.
It is up to us, fellow patriots, to do more than just protest, however. Just as Dr. King did, we must protest and be proactive – we must dream while being diligent with our desires. As a politician, I could tell you what party to be involved with, but as an American, I must implore you to be involved regardless of party affiliation. The mindless servant of politics is the person that does not have an active constituency to be mindful of. That part is up to us today – we must be mindful of our role to stay active in the process if we expect the political process and its participants to stay mindful of our high standards and our historical obligations between government and those that truly govern – we the people of the United States.
Be not discouraged, patriots. This seems like a daunting task, but Americans have faced grim realities before throughout our history and have always created greater realities for themselves in the end.
Only in the United States of America can the rich run for the highest offices of the land, only to be defeated at the hands of the poorest voters at the polls. America was never about the royalty of a few but the prosperity of a nation. With your efforts in elections, in town hall meetings, in local government debates, and in building alliances with your neighbors every day, you can reincorporate the everyday American into the fabric of politics every day. A government focused on taxing and spending is solely concerned about your money. A nation focused on your talents and liberty is focused on your patriotism, your desire to work hard and contribute, and your ability to rebuild America. With you, we make our country less about our government and more about our countrymen and women, the people that our government works for.
Only in the United States of America can the competition of business ideas, the competition of schools and their offerings, and the competition of products across state lines make for a better overall system for us all. We embrace diversity, we encourage healthy debate, and we foster a way of life that says that no one group should dominate based on numbers alone, but should lead with the best ideas and the best models for leadership. Health care reform should not come in America by way of the Democrats have 60 senators; it must come through the sharing of bipartisan ideas that embrace the American spirit of competition of choice, business innovation to drive down cost, and the knowledge that government that dictates how to provide health care can also decide when health care is no longer available based on bureaucratic urges and statistical conclusions.
Freedom – whether it is in health care, in educational opportunities, or from societal restraints – can never be taxed and sold, nor can it be purchased in backroom deals and corrupt conference meetings. It is earned with our patriotism. It is earned with our engagement with the issues. It is bonded with our love for every good thing that America stands for as a unique presence in the world. It is through that promise of hope – not the false promise of free health care – that America shines as the city on a hill throughout the global community.
American health care reform will not come from taxation in 2010 without implementation for years down the road. The sanctity of life is too precious for that, despite what Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi will tell you. Health care reform will come from listening to the American people and giving us what we want – more control of our choices, less costs for service and goods, and the same quality of access and care that we enjoy today. Freedom of choice and quality of service will only be gained the same way as it always has been – through free market enterprise…the beauty of the American way of life.
It is up to us, fellow patriots, to be the change that we can believe in, not the lack of change that we have seen in Washington. It is up to us, fellow Americans, to be the primers of change through our willingness to protest and educate and through our persistence to be involved and be heard. Being a rabble-rouser or being on television means nothing if we are not then ready to be a force with our representatives in Washington, Tallahassee, and points of government in between.
We celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today because he was willing to be historic at a time when doing so was a threat against his life.
We protest today against the efforts of a tax-and-spend, minimally-effective government because of its threats against our liberty.
We must dare to be historic today and throughout 2010 because without our constant action as respectful activists, candidates, speakers, and citizens, we incur a major obstacle in our collective pursuit of happiness.
The Constitution calls on us to be amenable to these inalienable rights, but the times call on us to be historic to protect these inalienable rights. As I have mentioned in my book, America is in need of recovering through smaller government and bigger people. That means that you are the giants that our nation needs to stop the gigantic debt mounting in Washington. You are the giants that we need to raise the accountability to stop the huge push for a system of change that America has not bargained for. You are the giants to rein in a system that stopped listening to America previously, but now hears your voices loud and clear today.
Be the change.
Be not afraid and be not deterred.
In the face of civil rights challenges, Dr. King was a giant that overcame the negativity, name-calling, and discouragement to beat back government and provide a better way for us all in the 20th century.
In the face of mounting personal restrictions and intense debt, you are the giants to overcome the name-calling and discouragement to beat back government into its rightful place and provide a better way for us all in the 21st century.
So I say:
Be the change.
Be what Dr. King was before you: a protesting patriot with a vision for tomorrow, an unyielding passion for America and equality, and a refusal to stop until life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was once again safe and sound in America in his time.
This is now our calling and this is now our time. Let’s do this – together.
Let’s be historic. What do you say? Are you with me?
The time is now. Let’s be historic.
Thank you for this opportunity. Stay involved with what you do.
God Bless you all and God Bless the United States of America.