I assume that this year, like every year, TV talking heads and politicians will shower the neutered, popularized image of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with praise.
They will not repeat his bold stance against war and U.S. imperialism: “The U.S. is the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.” They will not explore the meaning behind his class consciousness in declaring a poor peoples’ movement, asking: “Why do we pay a water bill in a world that’s two-thirds water?” No, instead a whitewashed, funhouse mirror image of King, a Disneyfied production will be projected on TV and in schools.
Like most Americans, I grew up believing that MLK was the calm, gentle voice in a storm of heated rhetoric and violent passions. And while King was indeed a nonviolent man, he was far more politically astute and radical than the soft preacher version we are usually sold.
What’s more, like all of us, he was shaped by his times and became more militant in his stance as the U.S. state exposed its intransigence to racial and economic justice.
Below, you can watch a magnificent 5-minute video by a radical group of friends of mine, African American filmmakers and activists in the Washington, D.C., area, SleptOn.org. Brian Jones, a Harlem teacher, actor, activist and my colleague at socialistworker.org, is featured in this video. You can also watch his longer video presentation at WeAreMany.org: “Martin Luther King’s Last Struggle.”
In this era of crisis and division, when the president vacuously calls for “civility” in the midst of the greatest incivilities perpetrated by the state, the real MLK is worth remembering. Watch, learn, enjoy and share.
Vodpod videos no longer available.