One of the most powerful things in human society are words, they can both inspire life and destroy life. America has already lost one great movement to word assassination. Unfortunately, its beginning to look like America could now lose another great movement to word assassination, this time before it gets started!!!

Human society’s most powerful tool is the spoken language. It’s what differentiates human beings from all living species and all other forms of life on planet Earth, it enables human beings to be masters of the universe. Simply put words are mechanisms used to communicate information.

Dr. Hyder Zahed said it best: “ Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.”

Throughout American history, positive energy words have been used to unite and negative energy words have been used to divide, and in the case of the American Civil Rights Movement words were used to kill. America’s greatest movement for equality and the elimination of racism was ended by word assassination, 5 words to be exact. 5 words that injected violence into a non-violent movement, 5 words that injected separation into a united movement, 5 words that changed the whole perception and racial complexion of the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1965 as American black Watts rioters of ill will looted and pillaged, and American black and white civil rights protestors of goodwill stood by and shouted 3 of the civil rights assassination words, “Burn baby burn”, America’s support for continuing the reforms needed to eliminate American systemic racism began to fade. Then came the word assassination atomic bomb to the Civil Rights Movement, 2 words that Martin Luther King Jr. vigilantly, under heavy criticism from many, refused to use.

Those 2 words were “Black Power”, while Dr. King appreciated the discrimination pain that produced the sentiment for saying black power, he also understood beyond the shadow of a doubt the violence, division, and separation it would and did produce. When the protest words changed from “ We Shall Overcome” to “ Black Power “, it was the final blow and suicidal death of the Civil Rights Movement by word assassination.

Saying the words black power in the late 1960s, made American Whites feel back then the same way as American Blacks felt a couple of months ago when Trump supporters in Florida shouted “White Power.” As Dr. King knew then and as American Blacks feel now, saying white power or black power erects a violent spiritual wall between American Blacks and American Whites. Saying white power or black power changes the conversation from racial equality to racial domination.

The suicidal word assassination of the Civil Rights Movement is a classic lesson in the importance of choosing the right words for the change one seeks. Unfortunately, this appears to be a lesson not learned by protestors of the new Civil Rights Movement, the Black Lives Matter Movement.

One of the main changes the Black Lives Matter Movement seeks is to change how American Blacks are treated by America’s police. Like the initial support of American Whites for the Civil Rights Movement reforms, as a result of the George Floyd police murder, American Whites have now moved back to the sweet spot of support for serious police REFORM, but sadly it appears history might repeat itself!!! Black Lives Matter protestors are repeating the same word assassination mistakes of the past civil rights protestors, by using the words “Defund the Police” as opposed to “Reform the Police.”

The words defund the police changes the perception of the Black Lives Matter Movement, in the same way, the words black power changed the perception of the Civil Rights Movement. If the Black Lives Matter Movement continues to say defund the police as opposed to reform the police, it will suffer the same suicidal death by word assassination that ended the Civil Rights Movement. Saying black power ended the support of most American Whites for the Civil Rights Movement, saying defund the police threatens to end the support for the Black Lives Matter Movement by both American Whites and American Blacks.

Because both American Whites and American Blacks recognize that all American communities need the police to keep them safe. Saying the words defund the police implies that a police force will be denied the financial resources it needs to keep a community safe, and according to a recent Pew Research Center poll 73% of all Americans say that spending on their local police should stay the same as it is now. This means that if a community has to choose between a dysfunctional racist police force, or an underfunded police force that they feel can’t adequately protect their safety, the dysfunctional racist police force will win every time.

American Black and American White Black Lives Matter protestors must remember at all times, that if they want this current 15-minute quest to eliminate systemic racism to be the needed 15-year quest to eliminate systemic racism, not only do Black Lives Matter but Words Matter Too!!!

The Black Lives Matter Movement’s failure to use the non-violent reform word that unites everyone, as opposed to using the violent defund word that divides everyone in its quest for the elimination of systemic racism, will mean the Black Lives Movement is committing suicide by word assassination before it even gets started!!! Leaving nothing to show for its efforts, but an American Black Democratic VP nominee who might be elected Vice President of the United States.

Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.

Originally published at on September 14, 2020.

Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center.

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