The Fierce Urgency of Now

Who Will Be Our Leader

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Charles Blow in a NY Times Op-ed on August 29, 2013, raised a question we have also asked:

What is our fierce urgency? What is the present pressure? Who will be our King? What will be our cause?

In the op-ed – ‘The Most Dangerous Negro’ – Mr. Blow states:

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” so disturbed the American power structure that the F.B.I. started spying on him in what The Washington Post called “one of its biggest surveillance operations in history.”

Mr. Blow then speaks about the content of the I Have a Dream speech:

So as we rightfully commemorate the March on Washington and King’s speech, let us also pay particular attention to the content of that speech. King spoke of the “fierce urgency of now,” not the fierce urgency of nostalgia.

What is our fierce urgency? What is the present pressure? Who will be our King? What will be our cause?

There is a litany of issues that need our national attention and moral courage — mass incarceration, poverty, gun policy, voting rights, women’s access to health care, L.G.B.T. rights, educational equality, immigration reform.

And they’re all interrelated.

The same forces that fight to maintain or infringe on one area of equality generally have some kinship to the forces that fight another.

And yet, we speak in splinters. We don’t see the commonality of all these struggles and the common enemies to equality. And no leader has arisen to weave these threads together.

Martin Luther King was a preacher, not a politician. He applied pressure from outside the system, not from within it. And I’m convinced that both forms of pressure are necessary.

King’s staggering achievement is testament to what can be achieved by a man — or woman — possessed of clear conviction and rightly positioned on the side of justice and freedom. And it is a testament to the power of people united, physically gathering together so that they must be counted and considered, where they can no longer be ignored or written off.

There is a vacuum in the American body politic waiting to be filled by a young person of vision and courage, one not suckled to sleep by reality television and social media monotony.

The only question is who will that person be. Who will be this generation’s “most dangerous” American? The country is waiting.

As the sequester slices the safety net, the challenge we face is how do we find leaders with a fierce urgency of now to lead us out of the desert?

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