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MLK speaker addresses local crowd via Zoom due to storm

Submitted photo Michael Imhotep, founder of The African History Network, spoke via Zoom to the crowd at Davis & Elkins College for its Martin Luther King Jr. Day dinner.

ELKINS — A snow storm prevented the guest speaker for Davis & Elkins College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day dinner from flying to West Virginia, but he still addressed the dinner attendees virtually.

Michael Imhotep, founder of The African History Network, spoke via Zoom to the crowd at the Myles Center for the Arts Senate Commons at D&E on Monday evening.

“I got to the airport two hours early this morning and my connecting flight to West Virginia was canceled because of the snowstorm there in West Virginia,” Imhotep said from his home in Detroit Monday evening. “They had to shut down the airport, they couldn’t clear off the runway for us to land.”

Imhotep’s discussion was titled “Dr. King’s Distorted Legacy: Reckoning with Racial Injustice.” He provided often-ignored aspects of King’s speech given during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963.

“Every Dr. King Day, they show in the media, on television, they show excerpts of Dr. King’s speech, but not the most potent parts of his speech,” Imhotep said. “His speech was originally called ‘A Canceled Check,’ which was renamed ‘I Have a Dream.’ … if you just go by television you’d think the speech was two minutes long. The speech was 43 minutes long.”

“The phrase ‘I have a dream’ doesn’t even appear in the drafts of the speech. The speech wasn’t about a dream,” he said. “The speech was about dismantling white supremacy and racism, and holding America accountable for a promissory note it promised and gave us in 1863 and then the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and calling America out for the hypocrisy, and holding America accountable for what they put on paper.”

Imhotep said “the foundation of the speech was the idea of African-Americans marching to Washington demanding to redeem a promissory note or check for justice. This was an analogy that Dr. King used.

“Dr. King was focused on eradicating racism, systemic racism. He was anti-war, anti-poverty. He was focused on totally restructuring society, to have a fair and just society, but also holding America accountable for what they put on paper, for what they put in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.”

Imhotep defined racial justice, which is what he said King was striving toward.

“Racial justice is the systematic fair treatment of people of all races that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone. All people are able to achieve their full potential in life, regardless of race, ethnicity or the community in which they live,” he said.

A lecturer, historian and educator, Imhotep is the host of “The African History Network Show” on radio 910 AM The Superstation WFDF Detroit. The program can be heard six nights per week. He also is a weekly panelist on the daily digital show, “Roland Martin Unfiltered” every Friday.

Imhotep’s presentation was sponsored by the D&E Black Student Union, the Presidential Initiative on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and the Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy.

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