Still Dreaming

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hundreds of people attended a commemoration celebrating and reflecting upon the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today at his church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta. Both Ebenezer and the house where Dr. King was born are located on Auburn Avenue, less than a mile away from where I now reside. Many poor people of color walk past the decaying buildings on Auburn Ave daily, and its conditions are a reminder of the life and lessons of the historical figure whose humble origins began here.

It is clear that we are far from the promised land that King dreamed of. What is interesting though, is how relevant all of King’s messages are today, especially the work he was doing in the later years of his life.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that King was murdered just as he began to transform his message into that of a class analysis that aligned the plight of Black folks in America with all poor people in the US and around the world. The message of civil rights was turning into a message of economic rights, and that is extremely threatening to the corporate interests that dominate policy in this country, both in 1968 and in 2008. Malcolm X, although ideologically different from King in his earlier years, was coming to this same conclusion when he was murdered in 1965. The difference is that he was not able to transfer his analysis into concrete action before he was killed. King on the other hand, was putting his words into practice. In the months before his April 4, 1968 murder, Dr. King was preparing for The Poor People’s Campaign, a populist protest planned for Washington, DC to push the federal government to eliminate poverty from ‘the hollows of Appalachia to the ghetto of Harlem.’ When assassinated, Martin King was in Memphis, TN helping striking trash workers.

In our capitalist system, many solutions to the problems we face as a society are economic ones. We are still dreaming of a better future, Dr. King, and the work to get there carries on.

Linn Washington wrote a great article for Counterpunch about the “Dream” of Dr. King. She is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, America’s oldest African American owned newspaper.

Also, United for a Fair Economy is a progressive organization that does some great work about the US economy and solutions to many of its great challenges.


2 responses to “Still Dreaming

  1. GREAT post “chen guevarra.”

    the other day when the democrats were debating, obama said somethng pretty insightful when he was asked, “who do you think MLK would have supported in this race if he were alive today?” Obama answered, “he wouldn’t have supported any of us. He would have been leading a movement to pressure us into looking to act in the best interests if civil and human rights.”

    I’m not sure if you saw my MLK post, but I also fully agree it was blatant that the second King & X began fighting for economic rights and advocating for the poor/working class, they were taken down with a quickness. I wonder when/if Malcom will ever be recognized with a holiday of his own.

    My magic 8-ball says “ask again later.”

  2. Thats dope. I love it when Obama says the brilliant shit that we all know he is capable of saying.

    Its hard to say if someone like Malcolm will ever be given a national holiday. The cultural norms of this country made MLK so much more “acceptable” to the mainstream (ie, his educated background, christian religion, nonviolence, etc.) and those norms likewise made Malcolm so much more “controversial” (poor background, single parent upbringing, trouble with the law, acceptance of violence as self-defense, etc.). What was so dope about the end of their lives is how such different people with such differenct backgrounds could come to the same conclusion about the economic oppression occurring in this country and around the world.

    Stay strong and keep up the good fight, bruh.

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