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Oh, first and foremost, I would ask dear Martin Luther King, Jr. (whose life and teachings I value so very highly) if he feels like he is being adequately represented in the United States today. Does he ever feel that his words are twisted to fit particular agendas that he wouldn't necessarily support? What are some current examples where he would feel pride at his words being invoked? What are some current examples where he would feel ashamed at his words being invoked? Does he ever feel that his words are being used to represent separation instead of unity? Does he feel that we, as a country, have moved closer to or further from his true dream of civil rights?
I just recently learned that Rosa Parks had a much more involved, covert, and clandestine role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott than previously known. Far from being a fed-up domestic worker who had simply had it with the unfair practices of Alabama and segregation in general, Parks played an active role in assisting King and the SCLC in staging the now-famous protest.
In an interview on NPR following Parks' death in 2005, the Reverand Jesse Jackson had this to say:
I would not like the projection of Rosa Parks being this mild, meek, almost simple woman who stepped into history and became famous. That's not true. Rosa Parks was a militant woman, very clear about what she was doing.
I would ask Dr. King to further go into detail about Parks's role in the planning and execution of this historic, world-changing event. I would want to get to know her as a passionate leader rather than the mythological aura that has enveloped her story.
You can read the full interview with Rev. Jackson and Rep John Conyers here.
For me, the most interesting questions to ask King would be in regard to his feelings about issues that are important today, as opposed to asking him about what happened in the Civil Rights Movement from 50 years ago.
For example, I would be very interested in his views on gay marriage or gays in the military. Similarly, I would be interested in what he thinks about the idea of women serving in combat positions. These are issues that we now think of as civil rights issues but which were not really on the "radar" back in King's day.
As for issues directly affecting African Americans, I would be interested in how he would think that poverty should be addressed today. By the end of his life, King was working more on issues of poverty than on issues that were specifically racial. I would be very interested in knowing how he would think we should go about combatting the problems of poverty and substandard education that affect so many African Americans today.
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