Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Honoring the Subversive Legacy of the Revd. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Woe unto you! for ye build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them." - Luke 11.47 ASV

Today is the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

People of all political stripes seek to honor King or to claim him. Dr. King is honored in our nation largely for his role in the civil rights movement. There is no doubt that his prophetic ministry help lead to the advancement of civil rights for African-Americans, and that therefore, he is rightfully an icon for the African-American community.

Dr. Martin Luther King also spoke on behalf of workers, and against the Vietnam War. When he was assassinated, he was in Memphis supporting a garbage worker's strike. He gave a famous speech against the Vietnam War in 1967. Dr. King was subversive of the American Imperialist system.  He prophetically denounced the oppression of people of color and the working class. He spoke against the imperial actions of the United States in South East Asia and elsewhere. He even on a few occasions referred to himself as a "democratic socialist."

So as we remember and honor Dr. King, let us not domesticate him. Let us remember how radical his advocacy of African-American Civil rights really was at the time. Let us not take it for granted. His dream is still not fulfilled. There is still systemic racism in our society. Let us remember this, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pulling back the Justice Department from investigating police departments that have had issues with shooting unarmed black folk.

Let us remember, at a time when unions are being busted and workers are losing wages, benefits and striking rights, and Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are vulnerable to cuts with the current administration and congress, that Dr. King was for economic justice, rights for workers, and unions.

Let us remember at a time, when we have engaged in two imperialist wars, and have had a policy of torture and indefinite internment, that Dr. King was against imperialist aggression and the Vietnam war. He would be against our actions in Yemen and Syria.

Dr. King still speaks, his work is not done.

Read Martin Luther King Jr.s Speech on the Vietnam War here.

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