When black Americans are working to see to it that an event honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is cancelled, you know we’re in deep trouble. Such was the case in Arlington, Texas. A group of concerned and later outraged spiritual and civic leaders and the Arlington chapter of the NAACP took issue with the invitation of Texas Governor Greg Abbott as honorary grand marshal in an MLK Day parade. Once civil rights leaders got wind of the Abbott invitation, they voiced their opposition immediately. The parade’s actual grand marshal was slated to be former Judge, civil rights attorney and esteemed American L. Clifford Davis. Martin Luther King III was the chosen as keynote speaker along with actor Laz Alonzo.
The event was conceived to celebrate Dr. King’s impact across six counties in North Central Texas: Collin, Dallas, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman and Tarrant County. The parade cancellation is unfortunate. Though well intended as a whole, Abbott’s presence was sure to sour the aim of the day.
As a contentious week drew to a close, the city of Arlington announced that the parade would be cancelled. The outstanding balance needed to obtain a parade permit was not satisfied in time. The biggest losers are the citizens who would have enjoyed the parade, camaraderie and an appeal to continue Dr. King’s efforts. The choice to involve those who are modern day opponents to not only Dr. King’s “dream” but his vision for America, is nonsensical and derailed any positivity the day should have brought.
Greg Abbott has served as Texas Governor since 2015 and his leadership has stoked the ire of black and brown people in the state since he assumed office. As a disabled person, he has failed to even protect the rights and interests of disabled Texans. As Attorney General, his office practices were uncouth and self-serving, even at the ultimate cost of justice and the freedom of Texas caught in the crosshairs of Texas’ bizarre child support system. Abbott is perhaps the most litigious Governor in history. His 44 lawsuits against the federal government have outpaced other state governments.
There’s no way Greg Abbott or anyone in opposition should ever be made part of an event to honor the legacy of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. With espoused ideologies on polar ends of the human rights spectrum, Americans owe it to the security of this country’s future to continue building and not invite destroyers of the dream to this table. In the most surprising development of this suddenly political fracas, the Rev. Kyev Tatum, president of the Tarrant County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Convention welcomed Governor Abbott with open arms saying to the Fort Worth Star Telegram: “MLK Day is a day to try to make your enemies your friends.”
Black Americans have spent the last 50 years trying to make peace with America’s racist past, to no avail. Had they been successful, there’s no way a tyrannical narcissist would be in the white house. Race relations aren't going to magically repair themselves and there’s still lots of work to be done.
Implausible as it may be, conjecture abounds in regard to this topic and many surmise that Dr. King would openly welcome a man that has opposed many of the tenets of civil rights movement, such as the right to vote. We’ll never know but judging from the content of Governor Abbott’s character while in Austin, it’s hard to imagine that Dr. King would sit at this table and not rebuke the Governor.
To those unwilling to do the work, stay away from the ones who are!
I'll leave you with this MLK quote: "The time is always right to do the right thing!". Whether he's in a float in Arlington or in the Governor's mansion in Austin, I'll be expecting Greg Abbott to do the "right thing" by all Texans! What I won't be doing is holding my breath. Other scheduled events in Fort Worth, Arlington, Dallas and surrounding areas will still happen at their regular times and locations.