Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King's call for class justice

In Washington, they're building a Martin Luther King memorial. It'll cost $120 million. A lot of people will make money from it. The dedication is scheduled for August 28, the date of his 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech.

Don't expect anyone to mention the work he did after that, when his love of justice made him speak against imperial wars and speak for poor people of all hues. Michelle Chen's Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Call for Peace as Racial Justice Still Rings has the wrong title. She quotes this part of King's "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" speech and fails to notice the sentence I've put in italics:
So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
Before he was killed, King planned a Poor People's Campaign. He had a solution to poverty that went beyond race. He said, when talking about the guaranteed income social dividend,
In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.
Before he could truly begin that work, he was silenced.

YouTube - Martin Luther King, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam"

ETA: From King's final crusade: The radical push for a new America - CNN: "'It didn't cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters ... but now we are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation spending billions of dollars and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power,' King said during a trip to Mississippi in February 1968."

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