PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

January 19, 2009

Silencing Dr. King

Filed under: 1Stop War,5Economics,Barack Obama,General,HI Politics — Bart @ 11:15 am

Today, as we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, it is a proper time to reflect upon the meaning of the man’s life work and message–the challenge he made to each of us to rise to our responsibilities, get out of our comfort zone and work to stop injustice.

Dr. Martin Luther King: Struggling Not to Lose Him

Dr. King was murdered in April 1968 in an attempt to silence his voice. We cannot erase that crime and the burden it has placed upon the movement for justice. But we can resist the many “little murders” which are committed every year around his birthday as the political and economic elite, dare I say, “the ruling class,” works to silence or muffle his message.

The powerful opposed Dr. King while he was alive. Now that he is dead, they try to rob his life of meaning by removing the prophetic, radical core from his thinking, rendering him a “civil rights” preacher relevant to understanding a past era, whose “Dream” has now been fulfilled. The election of Obama as president is sometimes offered as evidence of this.

To his credit, during the campaign season, when the Democratic candidates were asked whether MLK would support their candidacy, Obama alone said Dr. King would remain independent and would organize people to compel Obama to deliver justice.

Those who rightfully celebrate Obama’s inauguration would do well to honor Dr. King’s message and Obama’s view of King’s role. We cannot rely upon Obama to deliver us justice. We must organize to demand justice. From President Obama, from a Congress controlled by Democrats and from our local legislators as well.

Progressives would do well to take Dr. King as our prophet to give us guidance in the struggle he outlined for us, the struggle against “the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism.”

NOTE: The official media are fond of quoting passages from MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on the Washington Mall in August, 1963. The March on Washington and the rally were part of a mass lobbying effort to convince the Democrats, including President John F. Kennedy, to support passage of the Civil Rights Act. Accordingly, Dr. King toned down his message considerably, so as not to alienate the Democratic establishment and the owners of the corporate media. The “Dream” speech still has power, but much of his radical edge was omitted due to the needs of the moment.

On April 4, 1967, Dr. King gave a powerful speech at the Riverside Church in New York. By this time, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts had been passed into law. Dr. King’s vision had broadened and he was openly critical of the war in Vietnam, even though it angered Democratic President Lyndon Johnson and alienated some liberal supporters, and funders, of the civil rights movement. This speech, among others, provides a full expression of Dr. King’s vision. This speech is generally ignored by the commercial media in the efforts to de-fang the prophetic voice of Dr. King.

The text of this speech, Beyond Vietnam, can be found here:

A lengthy excerpt of the speech can be heard in today’s broadcast of Democracy Now, along with portion’s of the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, delivered the night before he was murdered in Memphis:

(The DemNow link includes audio recordings as well as transcripts of Dr. King’s remarks.)

The Struggle Continues….

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