Martin Luther Kings Birthday is celebrated on the 3rd Monday of January every year. His Birthday has come to mean many different things to many different people. Conservatives tend to use King as a symbol of individualism whose message and mission was to have people judged meritoriously not based on their race or any other superficial group designation. Liberals use King as a symbol of Anti Racist equality, Colorblindness, and of opportunity. For them King becomes an integrationist who wanted everyone to enjoy the equal access to the American Dream. We Radicals see King as a Anti Imperialist thinker and Geo Political figure who, after realizing the limitations of Civil Rights action (desegregation policy) on ending systematic exploitation that's designed to abuse communities, changed his analysis and critique of American Empire. As a result, King becomes an enemy of the U.S. Empire and ultimately is assassinated in order to to neutralize his movement. The legacy of Dr King is now being coopted by the very politcal institutions that resisted celebrating his birthday as a national holiday for for a decade and a half. We want to explore how the real ideas of King would impact the issues we face today.
*King's Transition to an Anti Imperial Message and Mission:
Imperialism is the worldwide system of brigandage by Europeans who brought the entire non white world under it's rule as it created the parasitic capitalist economic world order. King's initial civil rights activism was essentially a demand that the federal government force southern state governments to protect the Constitutional Rights of Black Americans. However by 1966 Dr. King was beginning to reevaluate his ideas that racial injustice was the result of a several backward governments. Malcolm X's death lead to a rise in militant young leadership in Urban areas around the country. Urban rebellions increased from 9 in 1965, 38 in 1966, 128 in 1967, and 131 in the first few months of 1968. These rebellions were a sign that Nonviolent philosophy was becoming bankrupt among young black Americans. These youth, unlike their parents, were very critical King's nonviolent love philosophy. When King took a trip to Chicago in 1966 he was attacked and assaulted by racist Whites and repudiated by inner city black youth. Also Malcolm's assassination had a profound impact on the consciousness Dr King. King begins to analyze Malcolm's message and that of the Urban black community. His experience while in Chicago living in a housing project profoundly impacted his consciousness. King begins to see a systemic problem that makes people permanently underclass. King begins to realize that Slum Lords, poor schools, along with Corrupt and abusive police were the result of a history of systemic exploitation of poor people by the owners of Capitalism. King begins looking at Poverty as the cause of inequality and injustice moreso than racist ideology. ...
... A year earlier, 1965 , King makes his first critique of empire with his speech on the Vietnam War at a statewide SCLC meeting in Petersburg, Virginia. At that speech King states, "I am certainly as concerned about seeing the defeat of communism as anyone else but we won't defeat communism by guns or bombs or gasses. We will do it making democracy work." By 1968 he had lost support of black and white Civil Rights activists who felt his criticism of America's involvement in Southeast Asia was out of line. In March of 1967 King and his allies led a demonstration calling for the Johnson Administration to enact an immediate cease fire in Southeast Asia. At the demonstration King claimed, "Poverty, Urban Problems, and social progress generally are ignored when the gun of war become a national obsession." A month prior King gave addressed an Anti War conference in Southern California. Then In the spring of 1967 at Riverside Church in New York King dedicated an entire speech to criticizing Vietnam:
"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor in Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The Great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."
That November King announced that the SCLC, with many ally organizations, would be launching a Poor's People Campaign to address the problem of Poverty. In the last days of his life King was in Memphis Tennessee to support a Sanitation Workers strike.
*Where Would King be on Mass Incarceration?
Mass Incarceration in the late 21st Century was a Counter Insurgency program used against poor people (esp. Blacks) under the guise War On Drugs. King would have obviously been critical of our governments complicity in poisoning black communities with Heroin and Crack and then exploiting the pestilence that resulted and over criminalizing those communities. Billions have continued to be fought in this war that has taken advantage of an abused community. King once said that "War is an Enemy of the Poor" and would had felt the same about this ongoing War on Drugs. Our governments response to the opioid crisis shows us that there's an alternative to fighting Drug addiction with criminalization. Yet the government chose to turn police into paramilitary forces that would attack black communities. There wasn't the same national response for Heroin and esp. Crack that their is now for Opioid Addiction. King would be a staunch opponent of Mass Incarceration and the primary method of achieving it: "Truth in Sentencing." Honoring King is connecting the dots between poverty and this constructed war on poor people who'd been victimized by their government. As a Peace activist King would have definitely wanted an end to the War on Drugs. R.I.P. Dr. King!