Happy MLK Day! Every year I try to read a sermon, speech, or letter by Dr. King to further understand his message. The past few years, I’ve been reading his mid-and-late-1960s messages, so this year I decided to be different. I read Transformed Nonconformist, a sermon he gave not long after being installed as the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. He was only 25 and a year away from receiving his Ph.D.
Dr. King invoked a comparison between a thermometer and a thermostat. All a thermometer does is reflect current conditions. If you’re cold, a thermometer will tell you how cold it is, but it won’t do anything to change the temperature. A thermostat, on the other hand, has a needle you can move to make it warmer, to change current conditions for the better.
So many people, Dr. King went on to say, function as thermometers: They reflect back conventional societal conditions of the current time, but they don’t do anything to change those conditions for the better. Dr. King invited his listener to be a thermostat, to be someone who moves the needle in our society here on earth, inspiration coming from the knowledge that we are part of the society of heaven.
Being a thermostat includes the willingness to be a nonconformist. Dr. King brought up the many white people he knew who were sincere in their support of equality for all races. However, he said, those people were thermometers, not thermostats; they feared moving the needle of equality because they feared they’d stand alone.
All right. I’m not done talking about this, but I’m fixing to discuss modern American politics, and I prefer to do that at the end of my posts. Let’s get on with the news.
The big event of the day is the MLK game at FedExForum, the Grizzlies hosting the Chicago Bulls at 2:30. The game will be broadcast live on TNT. Prior to the game, sports legends will speak at the Earl Lloyd Sports Legacy Symposium, which will be broadcast live by Bally Sports. Memphis’ own Wendy Moten, recent contestant on The Voice, will sing the national anthem at the game.
Speaking of the Grizzlies – Bleacher Report has an interesting trade speculation as the NBA deadline approaches: Could Jerami Grant by on the way to the Grizzlies? They believe the Detroit Pistons forward could be grabbed in a trade for some assortment of Dillon Brooks, Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke, players with short-term medium salaries, and picks. Grant is in the prime of his career and can play the 3 or 4 position. Grant at the 4 might give Jaren Jackson Jr. the opportunity to spend more time at center.
Interestingly, Bleacher Report writer Dan Favale believes that Desmond Bane has accomplished enough by now that he would be considered untouchable, along with Ja and Jaren, in trade talks.
I suppose the question to be answered – and one to which I don’t know the answer, because I kmow very little about him – is, does Jerami Grant fit the profile of a Grizzlies player? Strong on defense, high basketball IQ, grit & grind mentality? If so, he might be worth a look.
I’m very unhappy to report that River Time Market & Deli was broken into over the weekend. A man used a brick or rock to smash through the deli’s door. He took their cash box (which contained only change) and a drink out of the cooler. Hardly worth the hundreds of dollars of repairs the small business will incur.
River Time, on the south side of Court Square, will be closed today and tomorrow to deal with the damage. When they reopen, I encourage all my readers to stop by for breakfast or lunch and support them. They are a mom-and-pop business – literally, they are. They are the kind of business that makes Downtown a true neighborhood, not just a city center.
The National CIvil Rights Museum will conduct a hybrid MLK Day celebration, with in-peerson as well as virtual options. If you attend in person, you must reserve passes in advance and wear a mask.
Here’s a link to James Aycock’s COVID Week-In-Review. Case numbers and positivity are still enormous… but they are starting to trend in the right direction. If we can just get through about another month, James believes, we’ll enjoy another period of relatively low infection in the community, as we had February-June and October-November 2021.
Starting Wednesday, you can order 4 free at-home COVID tests to be shipped to your home. There are no shipping fees and no credit card number is required.
The DM has a story on drag racing in Memphis and while, although there are laws on the books prohibiting it, it’s a tough charge to get to stick. Drag racing often gets charged down to reckless driving if it is believed the standard of evidence for the stronger charge cannot be met. However, when the DA does obtain a conviction for drag racing, they can request forfeiture of the car.
There’s a 5K walk/run departing from AutoZone Park today at noon. Keep that in mind if you plan to drive Downtown around that time. You may be delayed.
Back to my discussion of Dr. King’s Transformed Nonconformist speech… I know some of my readers follow the national news and some don’t, so let me fill you in on what’s going on in Congress. Several voting rights bills, most notably the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill, sit in Congress, waiting to be voted on. All 50 Senate Democrats say they support voting rights, and with VP Harris holding the tiebreaking vote, theoretically they could force the legislation through with a 50+VP/50 majority.
Except they can’t, under current Senate rules. Republicans will filibuster the bills endlessly, leaving them permanently in limbo. It takes 60 votes to end a filibuster, and the Dems will never get 10 Republicans to join them.
However, the Senate can vote to change its own rules. All 50 Dems + the VP could vote to relax filibuster rules, then they could vote to end the Republican filibuster and bring the bill to the floor. They could then vote the bill into law, protecting all the voting rights gains nonwhite races have achieved the past 70 years. It would send a strong message that the country continues to move strongly forward toward equality – not roll backward.
Why won’t this happen? Two Democratic Senators – Joe Manchin (West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) won’t even hear of changing the filibuster rules. They are afraid if they do so, and the voting rights legislation passes, they will stand alone, just as Dr. King talks about in his sermon. Meaning, they’re afraid their voters will turn them out in the next election cycle. They lack the courage to do something extraordinary, right now, and send a message that passing the voting rights legislation is worth facing consqeuences at the ballot box at a later date.
If 100 years from now, history books look back at our generation as the one when American democracy came to an end, I hope Manchin and Sinema’s names are right there alongside Trump and Mitch McConnell as the reasons why. They’re earning that place in history right now.
That’s it for today. Back tomorrow with more news.