Almost fifty-three years ago, Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony of Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King’s death sentence was signed the minute he decided to put aside his focus on race and instead embraced the wider struggle between the powerless many who are oppressed and the powerful few who oppress them without bias to our differences. Martin Luther King was free to live and preach as long as he stayed in his lane; he was assassinated in cold-blood when he strayed out of line and started to talk about universal justice.
History records that it was a lone gunman by the name of James Earl Ray who killed King, but one only has to do a web search on the words “Loyd Jowers trail” to realize that our government was behind the extrajudicial execution of America’s greatest statesman and a moral giant who stood up for equality for all and justice without exception. King’s sin was daring to dream that we as a people can one day arrive at a promised land where we judge each other not based on the color of our skin but the content of our character. Attempting to deliver us to Zion was greeted with a bullet and the silence of his supposed disciples. History truly is a broken record.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) January 17, 2021
As the powerful have always done since the days of biblical prophets, they crucified King only to co-opt his message and invert his teachings. Politicians, pundits and opinion leaders of all stripe blackened King and turned a marvelous servant into a caricature. In a flash, his speeches were distilled into soundbites and the radical shepherd who tried to unite poor “whites” with poor “blacks” was reduced to a race envoy. The establishment only remember King as a one dimensional reverend; they refuse to acknowledge the man who spoke the following words:
“There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society.” [1967 MLK speech at SCLC Convention]
The 1960’s was decade that aborted leadership in America and replaced lions who spoke up courageously about the imperative of solidarity with hyenas who cackle cravenly as they inject society with the poison of separatism and infuse tribal grievances in our collective consciences. One day the truth of our government’s maliciousness will be revealed for nothing done in the dark stays in the shadows for an eternity, eventually the light exposes all secrets and our eyes will open to the evils of those who pretend to serve as they sever us from each other.
It is the height of hypocrisy that tomorrow is a Federal holiday reserved to honor the life and memory of Reverend Martin Luther King. Instead of shining the light on why he traveled to Memphis in April of 1968, one hustler and public serpent after another will rush to podiums to bend reality and subvert the true legacy of King. They will not mention that King sojourned to Memphis to start a “Poor People’s Campaign” with the aim of uniting poor “white” sanitation workers with their poor “black” brethren and sistren. To the contrary, two-faced media personalities with forked tongues will only wax poetic about King before he underwent a transformation from a race advocate to a human rights icon.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a @BU_Tweets alum, would've been 92. He's not with us because of White domestic terror, because what happened at the Capitol is older than the oldest Americans. But then again, King's love, insight and courage is still with us.https://t.co/mjSZKEO6zT
— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) January 17, 2021
Where the “elites” refuse to touch King’s authentic message of humanity above our differences, I ask everyone reading this to remember the sacrifices of MLK and to pick up where he left off. The same way he took a road trip to Tennessee to stand with “poor people” without bias to distinctions, I ask you to likewise stand with the struggling supermajority and to speak on behalf of the bottom 99%—we the people who are being governed without consent.
Now is not the time to argue about race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or the endless brands that cleave us apart; now is the time to unite so we can defend our collective rights.
There is one minor divergence from King’s final operation; instead of calling our movement “Poor People’s Campaign”, we are calling our cause “People Power Campaign”. No one wants to identify themselves as poor; even the most destitute folks stuck in generational poverty in the Appalachians or the ghettos of metropolis disavow that scarlet letter that renders people invisible. By rebranding our campaign and focusing on power instead of poor, we hope to attract a wide array of Americans under the umbrella of unity so that we can form a coalition of indigent, working-class, middle-class and even the affluent in order to reorient an economic system that is fleecing the proletariat in order to enrich the plutocracy.
I have one last ask and that is for everyone to take a day off on Wednesday, January 20th in honor of Martin Luther King. The same way King was trying to organize a strike on behalf of sanitation workers in Memphis, I plead with each of you to join Wildcat Strike USA 2021 so that we can form a united front as workers to deal a mighty blow to the neo-aristocracy. If we do not act quickly and defend our collective interests, we will soon find out the hard way what happens to a people who remain perpetually divided by our differences::PeoplePowerCampaign Click To Tweet
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” ~ Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
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