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  • Samuel Adams

Fairy Tale Dr. King

By: Samuel Adams

'The unfortunate truth is that America’s public schools will never teach its students, especially Black students, about the activities, motivations, and sacrifices of the real Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I place the current version of Dr. King taught in public schools in the same category as Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. Fairy Tale Dr. King is the creation of White educators who want to safely package Dr. King’s humanitarian work between once upon a time, and they all lived happily ever after. If you do not believe that there is a Fairy Tale Dr. King, visit your local elementary school during their obligatory King Day celebration, which usually occurs around the third Monday in January or any day convenient for teachers in February.

The book reports, the drawings, and stories about Fairy Tale Dr. King will define him as a preacher who was simply trying to get people of different colors to love each other as brothers and sisters. During that celebration of Fairy Tale Dr. King, the following words will never be heard or seen: police brutality, Whites only, or assassination. The use of those words would mean a Big Bad Wolf exists in the world of Fairy Tale Dr. King. And then, we must ask ourselves, who is the Big Bad Wolf trying to devour–Fairy Tale Dr. King?

Bishop Desmond Tutu died the day after Christmas at the age of ninety. There is not enough room on this page to celebrate Bishop Tutu’s transformative activism.

His passing was the front-page story of media outlets worldwide, but in most of the coverage, the following words were noticeably absent: White supremacy and racism. He spent sixty of his ninety years of life under the oppressive laws of the apartheid government in South Africa, a Big Bad Wolf that exploited, imprisoned, and murdered thousands of Black South Africans.

Public schools ruined the heroic tales of our leaders

Like Dr. King, Bishop Tutu’s life story was converted into a sanitized, fairy tale version while redacting, as much as possible, the Big Bad Wolf of apartheid he dedicated his life to destroying. The story has been the same for centuries, no matter the continent or country. Using White supremacy as an operating system, governments have been the Big Bad Wolf to every Black leader from Toussaint Louverture and Nat Turner to Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah.

The dissemination of the Fairy Tale, Dr. King’s narrative, continues the Jim Crow education White educators have been feeding Black children since integration. Jim Crow, one of the names the Big Bad Wolf has gone by, never lied to us. Jim Crow promised colored folks death, exploitation, and injustice in all areas of life. Maybe we believed the sacred stories of our heroes were safe from the Big Bad Wolf because we lived them and could pass them down to future generations through our oral storytelling tradition. We were wrong. Public schools hijacked the heroic tales of our leaders. Now, the Black community must reject the caricatures of Dr. King and our other Black heroes made by White people who desire to erase their ancestors’ genocidal activities.

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