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Be-Side

The Home of Hakm's B-Side e-alter ego...his auxiliary brain or external hard drive...

From Mohandis K. Gandhi to Michael Luther King, Jr

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Michael, I’m sorry

It’s not fair
At least I got to meet my grandchildren
Before my people turned on me

I should have told you
That satyagraha will get you killed

That your hugs and hope
Will end in an embrace of gunpowder

That one million people
Can beat one million bullets
But all it will take is one bullet
To beat you, Michael

We have more in common
Than our four children
And our changed names

More than Nobel Peace Prize gossip
Cold jail cell floors
And an oppressed underclass

More than Henry David Thoreau
And cowards who are too afraid to die for anything
Calling us soft

I’m so sorry
I should have told you
That Civil Disobedience
Requires civility

Civility that is very hard to find
In a human race that
Swaddles its offspring in flag and pistol
One in the cradle
And launches them off to war

I should have told you
That all of our Walden’s
Would be warzones

That we won’t die of old age
Or Tuberculosis like Henry

That non-violent resistance
Ends differently for people with our color skin
There should have been another chapter
For us

We both got our start in public transportation
Not the Montgomery Bus Boycott that put you on American television
But the day YOU
Were made to give up your seat on a bus
Hours after you won a speaking contest at the Negro Elks Society
And you didn’t sit in the back
You stood in the aisle
The entire 90-mile trip home

Where all the white passengers around you
Including the one in your seat
Were made to stare at your pride and your pain

You were fourteen

I was twenty-four

When I was thrown off a train
For refusing to leave the first class cabin
In South Africa
Beaten by a stagecoach driver
For refusing to “make room”
For a European passenger

That same genetic defect in humans
That made them spit on and spear
Your precious Jesus, King

I called it
“A negation of civilization”
You called me John 10:16
Which reads.
I have other sheep, which are not of this fold

You called me “great soul”

You said,
“Christ showed us the way,
And Gandhi in India showed it could work.”
And I’m sorry
That they are not all like you

Sorry
That they will forget
That I am Hindu and Muslim Peace
When they are looking for someone to bomb

That they will forget
That you are a militant lover
The pacifist-aggressive pastor
Monday through Sunday Christian
When they are looking for someone to be

I preached satya and ahimsa
Harvested riverbeds of salt
From the faces of my brothers and sisters
While giving the middle finger to British law

You preached
Said if one thousand are locked up
There should be a thousand more waiting to fill their jail cells too
Said peace is not merely the absence of tension,
it is the presence of justice.

And I’m sorry
Sorry, I didn’t tell you the rest
Sorry I didn’t tell you how tired I was
How tired you looked
At the end

How the press would ridicule you
When your peaceful protest exploded into to violence
How it would frustrate you
In a way that fasting and praying could not cure
How you could give a damn about how it would hurt your image
Because what was really taxing
Was how it broke your heart

Martin,
It’s the same heaven for lawyers and martyrs
There is no caste there
To separate those who live good lives
From those who live good legends

You could have just been a good father,
Husband, Pastor
Instead of King

I could have practiced law
Not dying for the cause

I should have told you the dirty little secret
That death
Is the only way out of making a hypocrisy of ourselves

That I was on the brink
Ready to duck tape the mouths of my fellow countrymen
Bickering over India and Pakistan
As the British smirked on their way out

And you
You were running out of other cheeks to turn

Sometimes,
Murder is the only way we leave in peace, Martin

He Ram

And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner
But I think you knew

For someone dead at half my age
You were always a quick study

And when you got back from India
You let me and the whole of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church know

On Palm Sunday

You said,
“God grant that we shall choose the high way.
Even if it will mean assassination, even if it will mean crucifixion,
For by going this way we will discover that death will be only the beginning of our influence.”

© Hakim Bellamy January 17, 2013


Written for the 5th Annual Amy Biehl High School Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service & delivered at the 19th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March and Celebration in Albuquerque, New Mexico.