Why's it part of the "Rock Box" playlist?: It's featured in The Boondocks' 2006 MLK holiday episode "Return of the King," which had Dr. King (Kevin Michael Richardson) interacting with the characters in the Boondocksverse. Ignorant-ass Riley (Regina King, no relation) sizes up Dr. King and asks him, "Is you Morgan Freeman?" Self-hating, brain-damaged Uncle Ruckus (Gary Anthony Williams) protests against the civil rights leader and in one of the episode's funniest lines, declares "I was happier at the back of the bus!"
Which moment in "Return of the King" does it appear?: "Wishing" accompanies the brief montage where Huey (also Regina King) and MLK go door-to-door to spread the word about their political rally (the above photo is from this sequence). The 2004 track samples King's "I Have a Dream" speech and is Masta Ace and Edo G's list of wishes for changes in everything from the then-Bush-run White House to more-heated-in-2010-than-they-were-in-2004 issues like Islamophobia and health care ("I wish God could take away the pain/I know you wanna call me insane/I'm a dreamer"). "Wishing" isn't featured long enough in "Return of the King" for viewers to dig most of the verses, but the track's presence nicely foreshadows the final moments of Huey's episode-long fantasy ("It's fun to dream").
"Return of the King" is my favorite episode of any animated series in the '00s. The initial fear that Aaron McGruder dumbed down his thought-provoking and politically charged comic strip for TV was laid to rest with a brilliant, hilarious and scathing peek into an alternate reality where King didn't die from James Earl Ray's bullet.
King awakens from a 32-year coma and is disheartened by what's become of the world he non-violently fought for. His image and ideology are exploited in everything from advertising to so-called political discourse (a certain August 2010 rally at the Lincoln Memorial is eerily foretold during the scene where a bow-tied mash-up of smarmy Tucker Carlson and equally smarmy Bill O'Reilly tries to force King to espouse his "Country First"-like agenda, and the blowhard ends up getting an ass-whupping from Huey that always makes me applaud). Streets that were named after MLK have become hotbeds of violence. His pulpit has been taken over by preachers who are talkin' loud and sayin' nothing. MGM released Soul Plane.
"Nintendo." King's wake-up call to his community pissed off the totally-missing-the-satirical-point-of-the-episode Rev. Al Sharpton (much of King's speech was lifted from a song by Asheru, the same MC who performed The Boondocks' dope opening title theme). Sharpton publicly lashed out against the McGruder-scripted "Return of the King" and demanded an apology from Cartoon Network for allowing MLK to be "desecrated." The Peabodys responded to Sharpton's criticisms by giving the episode an award.
"What I like about Al is that he's not in this for the publicity," snarks McGruder in the episode's equally hilarious and scathing DVD commentrak.
"Cartoons," adds Boondocks co-executive producer Rodney Barnes in the commentrak. "That's what Dr. King be doin' today: fighting against cartoons."