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In year that saw renewed calls for racial justice, over 50 nationwide demonstrations held to ‘desanitize’ the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams
Thousands of people took to the streets on Monday rebuking what they say is the “sanitized” version of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and calling to restore the legacy of a man whose protests, like their own, were never “convenient.”
The nationwide actions marked the birthday of the civil rights leader in a year that saw renewed calls for racial justice in the face of persistent inequality, discrimination, and police targeting of communities of color.
Capping off almost a week of demonstrations, organizational meetings, and other pledges of resistance—all done with the intent to “Reclaim MLK”—grassroots coalition Ferguson Action issued a specific call for Monday: “Do as Martin Luther King would have done and resist the war on Black Lives with civil disobedience and direct action. Take the streets, shut it down, walk, march, and whatever you do, take action.”
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“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” –MLK, speaking against the Vietnam War in 1967
By Jim Miller
It’s the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and we will be greeted, as is the case these days, with lots of empty gestures and vanilla rhetoric that erases the radical nature of King’s legacy and neuters the impact of his ideas. As I have noted in years past, King was not a moderate whose only idea was that we should all just get along and respect each other. He was a provocative thinker and activist who challenged the core values of our society both then and now.
King fought what he characterized as “the triple evils of racism, materialism, and militarism,” sought to restructure “an edifice which produces beggars,” and called for us to move forward with a “divine dissatisfaction . . . until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.”
He believed that the “whole structure must be changed” for America to be reborn as a truly humane, egalitarian, and civilized society. Only then would we have “democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action.”