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5 Things You Won’t Hear At A Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration


The name, image and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be bantered around today embodying a host of contradictions, distortions, half-truths and out right lies. 

The memory of Dr. King has not been served well by the country which acknowledges his birth with a federal holiday, or  his detractors who mis-quote or totally misunderstand his legacy and those supporters of King who seem suspended in time when he delivered his 1963 “I Have A Dream Speech.” He is only one of three Americans to have a national holiday, and the only African-American and person who is not a former president of the United States to be honored in that way.

There are 5 areas of King’s legacy that you probably would not hear being addressed at any so-called Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration:

1.) Martin Luther King, Jr. did not fully follow the non-violence methods of Mohandas Gandhi. To be precise, Martin Luther King, Jr. appropriated an aspect of the Gandhi model but did not entirely follow Gandhi’s example.

  • Gandhi was a  life long vegetarian, while Martin Luther King, Jr. did not practice vegetarianism.
  • Gandhi’s family was a member of the Jain religion, which maintained tolerance of other religions. Despite King’s example the overwhelming majority of Christians believe that only acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior leads to true salvation.
  • Gandhi in his practice of  non-violence resistance against British colonialism of  India  implemented  the swadeshi policy, which included the boycott of foreign-made goods, especially British goods.
  • Gandhi also encouraged that khadi (homespun cloth) be worn by all Indians instead of British-made textiles. Gandhi exhorted Indian men and women, rich or poor, to spend time each day spinning khadi in support of the independence movement. Gandhi even invented a small portable spinning wheel that could be folded into the size of a small typewriter.
  • In addition to boycotting British products, Gandhi urged the people to boycott British educational institutions and law courts, to resign from government employment, and to forsake British titles and honours.
  • Gandhi was an Indian nationalist who sought the independence of his nation from white rule, while Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to transform American society and sought full integration into its oppressive American structure. King resisted the aims and objectives of the Black Nationalist movement that sought to create their own nation.

Despite not advocating any nationalistic economic initiatives, Martin Luther King, Jr. did have an economic agenda which was considered radical by the white ruling elite.

2.) Martin Luther King ‘s Economic Agenda

  • King before his death wanted the U.S. government to have a guaranteed living wage for every citizen.
  • King espoused higher levels of corporate responsibility towards persons of African ancestry as seen with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Operation Breadbasket and the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. forcibly and clearly called for a radical redistribution of wealth as a necessary step to eradicate racism in America.

In his book “Where Do We Go From Where: Where Do We Go From Here?” King put forth his ideas on the need to eliminate poverty:

“Two conditions are indispensable if we are to ensure that the guaranteed income operates as a consistently progressive measure. First, it must be pegged to the median income of society, not the lowest levels of income.

To guarantee an income at the floor would simply perpetuate welfare standards and freeze into the society poverty conditions. Second, the guaranteed income must be dynamic; it must automatically increase as the total social income grows. Were it permitted to remain static under growth conditions, the recipients would suffer a relative decline.

If periodic reviews disclose that the whole national income has risen, then the guaranteed income would have to be adjusted upward by the same percentage. Without these safeguards a creeping retrogression would occur, nullifying the gains of security and stability.

 This proposal is not a “civil rights” program, in the sense that term is currently used. The program would benefit all the poor, including the two-thirds of them who are white. I hope that both Negro and white will act in coalition to effect this change, because their combined strength will be necessary to overcome the fierce opposition we must realistically anticipate.”

3.)  Martin Luther King & Non- Christian Religions

  • Martin Luther King while an avowed Baptist Christian minister respected other religions. King praised boxer Muhammad Ali for refusing to be drafted by U.S. government to enlist in the Vietnam War.  Writer Dave Zirin in  Sports Illustrated on January 18, 2010 wrote:

“In the 1960s, Dr. King also embraced, albeit privately, a boxer named Cassis Marcellus Clay (a.k.a. Muhammad Ali). We now know about their friendship because the FBI recorded their discussions. Their relationship was private because Ali, with his membership in the separatist Nation of Islam, was rebuked by the civil rights community. Prominent civil rights activist Roy Wilkins once said, “Clay is like a voluntary member of the White Citizens Council.”

King and Ali appeared in public together only once at a demonstration for fair housing in Ali’s hometown of Louisville. But the connection was a strong one. In 1967 when Dr King, in the face of torrents of criticism, came out against the war in Vietnam, he invoked the champ saying, “Like Muhammad Ali puts it, we are all-Black and Brown and poor-victims of the same system of oppression.”

King also sought to work with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad leader of the Nation of Islam on projects of mutual concern for the uplift of Black people.

4.) The International Vision Of MLK

  • The inaccurate media spin of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.divorces him from his work and views on international affairs.
  • Dr. King was very observant of world events and participated in what he described as “the world-wide movement” against injustice.
  • In his “Letter From Birmingham Jail” written April 16, 1963, King declared: “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place.”
  • In 1957, King attended the independence ceremony of Ghana as an invited guest of the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah.
  • In his speech “Birth of A New Nation” given on April 7, 1957  King stated:

“Ghana has something to say to us. It says to us first that the oppressor never voluntarily gives freedom to the oppressed.

You have to work for it. And if Nkrumah and the people of the Gold Coast had not stood up persistently, revolting against the system, it would still be a colony of the British Empire. Freedom is never given to anybody, for the oppressor has you in domination because he plans to keep you there, and he never voluntarily gives it up. And that is where the strong resistance comes—privileged classes never give up their privileges without strong resistance.

So don’t go out this morning with any illusions. Don’t go back into your homes and around Montgomery thinking that the Montgomery City Commission and that all of the forces in the leadership of the South will eventually work out this thing for Negroes.

It’s going to work out; it’s going to roll in on the wheels of inevitability. If we wait for it to work itself out, it will never be worked out. Freedom only comes through persistent revolt, through persistent agitation, through persistently rising up against the system of evil. The bus protest is just the beginning. Buses are integrated in Montgomery, but that is just the beginning.

And don’t sit down and do nothing now because the buses are integrated, because if you stop now we will be in the dungeons of segregation and discrimination for another hundred years, and our children and our children’s children will suffer all of the bondage that we have lived under for years.

It never comes voluntarily. We’ve got to keep on keeping on in order to gain freedom. It never comes like that. It would be fortunate if the people in power had sense enough to go on and give up, but they don’t do it like that. It is not done voluntarily, but it is done through the pressure that comes about from people who are oppressed.”


5.) The role of the United States Government In The Assassination Of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the Federal Bureau of  Investigation (FBI) was obsessed with destroying Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. Hoover’s sentiment was expressed in the COINTELPRO papers where he classified as “the most dangerous Negro in America.” Hoover viewed King as a Black Messiah whose efforts to change America should be halted by any means necessary.
  • Last year it was revealed that trusted photographer Ernest Withers who took pictures of MLK and others in the Civil Rights Movement worked as an informant for the FBI.
  • In a lawsuit filed by the King family against Loyd Jowers who claimed he was part of the conspiracy to murder Dr. King
  • The King family has won a wrongful death lawsuit it had brought against Loyd Jowers, a retired Memphis businessman, who claimed that he paid someone other than James Earl Ray to shoot Dr King.
  • The jury awarded the Kings just $100 in damages. The family had asked for a token amount in the wrongful-death lawsuit because what they wanted most was for the jury to find evidence of a conspiracy and lend support to their call for a new investigation into the killing.
  • Mr Jowers, who owned a restaurant on the ground floor of a building from where the fatal shot was fired, said he was paid $100,000 to hire the killer.

The five areas briefly explored in this article are just a minor part of the neglected study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The fact that a country that still continues to wage war as evidenced with its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan honors a proponent of non-violence is worthy of serious examination.

King in his writings did not address the racism exhibited by Gandhi in South Africa and India. Gandhi while in South Africa working on behalf of the “Indian community there once described the Black South Africans as “Kaffirs” and “uncivilized”.  “During his time in South Africa, Gandhi protested repeatedly about the social classification of blacks with Indians, whom he described as “undoubtedly infinitely superior to the Kaffirs”[“]

Gandhi’s efforts to work on behalf of India’s untouchable caste also known as Dalits, was met with resistance due to perceptions he was paternalistic and prevented the Dalit community from pursuing their own path. Prominent Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar was a fierce critic of Gandhi.

The King celebration should be the time to clarify all aspects of the non-violence ideology, analyze how government as well as all areas of life can become more just and what are the positive or negative aspects of non-violence.

Instead it has been used to de-militarize the community of African ancestry and steer that community from any actions of militancy. Too many programs today will allow corrupt politicians  invited by compromised ministers to speak about King as a non-violent leader.

The people attending these type of events won’t hold these politicians and ministers to task about how they live up to the “MLK justice index” but in most cases they will satisfied that some one with a title said he/she likes Dr. King.

These are some of the issues which many will not focus on during this year’s King celebration or any in the future.

©VisionThought 2011. All Rights Reserved.


8 Responses to “5 Things You Won’t Hear At A Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration”

  1. […] 5 Things You Won't Hear At A Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration … […]

  2. Interresting stuff…

    Read the full article here……

  3. can anyone translate this article to Romanian? I will appreciate so much. I shall come back and check.

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