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... Of Burning Houses & Pipe Dreams

If you attended/watched Tavis Smiley's 2006 State of the Black Union, I'm sure you have an idea of what the title is all about. The Burning House - it comes from, perhaps, an alarming statement Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made days before his death. Pipe Dreams - well, that's what either idea regarding what to do (and what can possibly be done) about The Burning House have been called.

During the Pioneers & Pacesetters panel, as you all may know, Min. Louis Farrakhan recited the MLK quote (below) which was stated in-confidence to Harry Belafonte (also on the panel) and suggested that via Biblical/religious prophecy that 'We Should Let The House Burn'. The House is America, generally. In particular, I believe, it refers to our current form of government.

Min. Farrakhan referenced Thomas Jefferson's [American] Revolutionary idea and encouraged us to Alter or Abolish our current form of government and form a new one. Farrakhan made the case for the latter. He suggested that America via the government via the powerful Whites who control American society... that America would never fulfill its promise(s) and was clear in saying America never has fulfilled its promises whether they were to us or Native Americans or whoever. He stated that as he spoke in opposition to the idea in the theme chosen from a Barbara Jordan quote:Farrakhan's statement was, perhaps, the only statement that deviated from the 100%, across the board, unconditional support from Tavis Smiley's Covenant with Black America (except for maybe the faint appeal from the Republican congresswoman who wanted "family" emphasized). To say the least, even though widely applauded by the audience, his statement caused a stir. But why?

Well, here's the MLK quote complete with the jist of Harry Belafonte's response to it (from a 1996 column written by Belafonte):
Midway through the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., realized that the struggle for integration would ultimately become a struggle for economic rights. I remember the last time we were together, at my home, shortly before he was murdered. He seemed quite agitated and preoccupied, and I asked him what the problem was. [This is what he said]:
    "I've come upon something that disturbs me deeply. We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will be victorious. But what bothers me is that I've come to believe that we're integrating into a burning house."

    "America has lost any moral vision it pretended to have, or in fact may have had."

    "...I'm afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be concerned deeply with the plight of the poor and the disenfranchised. Until we can come to grips with the fact that... we'll forever be perpetuating the ills in which we now find ourselves."
BELAFONTE: That statement took me aback. It was the last thing I would have expected to hear, considering the nature of our struggle...

I would like to see Black America rise up again and honestly examine where we are at this point in history. We must stop relying on the Democrats, on the Republicans, on institutions that oppress us, and take responsibility for ourselves. Whenever we've stepped out to assume responsibility for our future, we've succeeded in our mission. White America didn't give us the gains we've made. Through various movements we went out, fought for them, took them and made ourselves better people, and the world a better place. I am far from disillusioned. Deep in my soul, I know there are more Rosa Parks ready to emerge. Perhaps we are the firemen who can save the burning house. Martin would have embraced such a thought.

My question is: What do we make of all this?
What are your views about the State of Black America, whether America is a Burning House and what we should do in terms of being "Firemen" or should we say, "Burn, Baby Burn" while forming, constructing something new?

To be clear, as he alluded to during the panel, Min. Farrakhan has suggested the creation of a Ministry of Trade of Commerce, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Health and Human Services, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture, etc. Part of that is a response to Hurricane Katrina and his insistance (first made public at the Millions More Movement event in D.C.) that we rely on and provide FEMA like services, e.g., for ourselves. One aspect of the Convenant, on the other hand, would seem to serve as a list of demands we would place at the feet of political parties as a statement of solidarity and a statement of clarity as to our agenda - what we will and won't support and what the parties can do to get our support, etc.

Which, if either, is more practical?
Which, if either, will be more fruitful?

Are they mutually exclusive?
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