Obama and Dr. King

Question Will death hover over Obama if he is elected President?

Michael Eric Dyson:  I don’t think that death will hover over Barack Obama in the same way as it did with Dr. King. First of all, we’re 40 years beyond that. Even though the threat is real, there are still many elements, quarters, sections and peoples in this country, who would rather see a black man dead than see him embrace his divine destiny of being the leader of the free world. So there’s no question that there would be perhaps danger and harm in the offing but I tell black people who used to tell me that is their reason not to vote for Obama, “Don’t vote for him because you think Hillary Clinton is the superior candidate-- that’s a great reason--but not because you think he’s going to get killed.”  I said, “Let Jesus and the Secret Service take care of that. If this man has said, ‘I’m going to run and I’m willing to take the risk,’ then think about it and let him take that risk,” because Martin Luther King Jr. knew every day he was going to die. He knew with a certainty that America would snuff him out. He sat next to his wife watching the funeral, which he was bitterly disappointed at not being invited to attend. He looked at that funeral on television with his wife and said, “This is what will happen to me. We live in a sick society.”  Mrs. King said, “It’s not as if I could go up to him, sidle up next to him, grab his hand and go “Oh, no, Martin. You’re wrong.’  She said, “I believed it too. I believed it as well that he would be murdered.”  So here is a man with a near certainty that he would die and yet he kept transforming the certainty of his death into something redemptive and powerful and uplifting. So in that sense I think that Dr. King in terms of his legacy was a man who really grappled with the deepest currents of American politics while at the same time making himself vulnerable. And unfortunately we’ve tended to deny the legitimate contributions that others have made because we compare and contrast them with Dr. King but also we lose sight of the incredible opportunity of investigating Dr. King’s life and figuring out why he meant so much and why he was willing to risk so much as a courageous figure in his own day and age.

 

Recorded on: May 16 2008 

 

Dyson explains the black church's prophetic tradition, and its role in the Rev. Wright controversy

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.