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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 03:44 PM
Original message
Obama trails only King in poll on influential African Americans

Obama trails only King in poll on influential African Americans

By David Jackson, USA TODAY

<...>

TheGrio.com, which describes itself as "a website devoted to the news, opinions and contributions of black people in America and around the world," assembled a panel of experts to determine the 25 most influential African-American leaders of all time.

The nation's first African-American president rated high, but not the highest, TheGrio.com reported: "President Barack Obama is the only living leader included among the Top 10. He is ranked a very close second to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."

Of Obama, the editors said:

This result is nothing short of extraordinary given that President Obama is a relatively young leader who only became known to a national American audience in the past four years.

Many of the experts on this panel have written critically of various aspects of his presidency. All of the experts on this list are deeply knowledgeable of the long trajectory of black struggle in America and the many personalities who have been part of it.

His presence among these giants of black political history is indicative of the symbolic and substantive importance of his presidency despite his often-embattled administration.

King, however, "is clearly the consensus choice of this group," TheGrio.com reported:

King never held elected office. He was harshly criticized in his own lifetime both by the American public and by some members of his own community. Although he was still a very young man at the time of his assassination, his contributions shine forth as a signal, extraordinary legacy of leadership and achievement.

TheGrio.com Top 10 African-American leaders from history:

more

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NOLALady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 03:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. Ummm I wonder where he stands
on influential Americans.
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 07:22 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Interesting question. n/t
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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 11:31 PM
Response to Original message
3. I haven't been on DU much today, but I think it's interesting
that on King's birthday there are two things I see going on.

1) There doesn't seem to be all that much interest in Dr. King's birthday, which interests me considering the number of times that he is quoted/referred to on this web site; and

2) I also find it remarkable that there seems to be an effort to almost MINIMIZE King's efforts and role as a black rights leader. Most of the topics on Dr. King today have been on his Out of Vietnam speech and his work for the sanitation workers. One poster said that "King realized that it wasn't about race" which I find baffling at the very least. I saw another person that said he "evolved" past "just" civil rights for blacks, as if civil rights for blacks in and of itself is not enough to glorify and honor this man.

These speeches and the work that Dr. King did in these areas is magnificent, but for me, Dr. King will always be first and FOREMOST the man who put his life on the line for the black community. The man who went to jail for the black community. The man who openly wept when talking about making life better for "little black girls and boys." Who was not afraid to speak to even the most rabid racists on earth if it meant improving the lives of his fellow blacks. He was a remarkable man and proponent of human rights and social justice for all, but the issues that made him THE Martin Luther King, Jr., the cause that garnered him international recognition, including a Nobel Peace Prize, was civil rights for blacks. The efforts to minimize this that I see on DU today strike me as incredibly bizarre.
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boppers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 01:00 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. I don't think that's minimization, I think that's claiming by others.
It's somewhat like talking about the Holocaust, and only Jews, or talking about the Holocaust, and Jews, Roma, Poles, gays, Catholics, intellectuals, etc.

Rather than focusing on King's civil rights work alone, they personalize their relationship to things that they feel part of. With King, it's minorities, the poor, Vietnam, etc.
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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 01:53 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I love this point. I'm not sure that it relates to my point, but it's a good one
Edited on Tue Jan-18-11 01:56 AM by Number23
My argument is that MLK was, by and large, a black rights leader. That's what made him MLK. Yes, towards the end of his life, there is no question that he extended his message of social justice and inclusion to other areas. But it was the fire and commitment of his efforts in the Civil Rights Movement that gave him the very gravitas that he was able to bring to those other issues.

I just feel that this element of who he was -- which comprised probably 90% of the work that has made him revered the entire world over -- seems to be getting shortchanged.
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boppers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 02:49 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Here's how it relates:
Let's take somebody else of similar stature: Ghandi.

(I'm sure MLK would appreciate the comparison).

He wanted a united, decolonized, India. That was the bulk of his life's work.

It didn't happen, and it's not what people remember him for.

People remember him for *ideals* they share in common with him.
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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 03:09 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. The Gandhi comparison actually seems more appropriate
The need to relate to a leader is certainly understandable, but people should not whitewash (pardon the expression) what someone was/is in order to make them more relatable.

King is renowned the world over for his work in bringing civil rights to black Americans. I think it's fantastic to also highlight the other work that he did/issues he was committed to, but minimizing his work on black civil rights (and even going so far to say that he "evolved" past "just" civil rights to other issues) makes my teeth itch. It's what the man was. It's what he died doing.
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boppers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 03:27 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. "evolved" has a certain itch.
If you feel it, I don't need to explain it.
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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 12:14 AM
Response to Original message
4. Also,
"President Barack Obama is the only living leader included among the Top 10. He is ranked a very close second to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This result is nothing short of extraordinary given that President Obama is a relatively young leader who only became known to a national American audience in the past four years. Many of the experts on this panel have written critically of various aspects of his presidency. All of the experts on this list are deeply knowledgeable of the long trajectory of black struggle in America and the many personalities who have been part of it. His presence among these giants of black political history is indicative of the symbolic and substantive importance of his presidency despite his often-embattled administration."

I wonder if this will do anything to silence those who think that "Obama has done nothing for the black community" or that blacks only support him because he's black?
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Ter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 02:40 AM
Response to Original message
7. It's actually close?
It shouldn't be. King is the clear choice here.
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