2018-04-04 The Last March of Martin Luther King Jr. In the months leading up to his assassination, King’s greatest focus was on poverty and economic injustice.
1995-01-04 The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV – Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon: By 1967, King had also become the country’s most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 — a year to the day before he was murdered — King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”
From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was “on the wrong side of a world revolution.” King questioned “our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America,” and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions “of the shirtless and barefoot people” in the Third World, instead of supporting them.
Organizational MLK Statements (partial)
2021-01-18 Black Lives Matter Global Network Today, as we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (who was born on January 15th, 1929), we are still carrying so much of our own pain and grief.
We’re fighting for our lives and liberation. We’re mourning the Black lives lost to systemic racism, police brutality, and COVID-19. And we’re recovering from a white supremacist failed coup at our nation’s Capitol just 12 days ago — all while still trying to reckon with the racist roots of the country we are fighting so hard to improve.
But just as MLK did, we continue to persevere. We continue to center Black lives. And we continue to speak out and take action against injustice everywhere.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in the possibility of an America that celebrates, acknowledges, and allows for thriving Black lives. Today — and every day — we keep fighting to see his and our dream realized.
Although this MLK Day looks very different from years past, it is important that we take a moment to rest and reflect on all that our ancestors have contributed to the movement. With each passing day, we take more and more steps toward realizing the America that MLK so diligently believed in.
Keep checking in on each other, and keep on fighting. In love and solidarity,
2021-01-18 Common Cause This Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes at what I hope can be a turning point in our history. We saw the last-gasp of Donald Trump’s presidency at the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago — and it’s no surprise that it ended with the same violence, racism, and hate that he has inflicted on this country, and Black and Brown communities in particular, for his entire presidency.
It disgusted me to see a Confederate flag — a symbol of those who ripped our country apart to preserve the institution of slavery — in the U.S. Capitol building. And it enraged me — after a summer marked by police violence against peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters — to see how unprepared (at best) law enforcement was for the onslaught that left five dead, with some officers appearing to actively support the insurrection.
Michael, the challenges we face are bigger than Donald Trump — which means they won’t magically get better when he leaves office on Wednesday.
After all, Trump’s attacks on the legitimacy of our election — and his efforts to suppress Black and Brown voters — were aided by hundreds of Members of Congress, state legislators, and attorneys general. Even after the violent attempt to overthrow our government and literally kill elected officials, many are still maintaining the lie that the election was illegitimate.
That lie fueled the violence we saw on January 6th, violence I fear could continue into the future. And, it will soon fuel an onslaught of state-level attempts to silence people through gerrymandering and voter suppression — on top of how the unrepresentative Senate and the broken Electoral College already stack the deck against truly representative government.
Today, as we honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s work with our nation’s only federally designated day of service — we must also recognize that his demands for justice and equality were caricatured, misrepresented, and demeaned as much as in their time as the Black Lives Matter movement is today.
Dr. King’s memory inspires hope, but it also demands that we continue to call out the injustice that we see — from this president, and also in an entire system built to keep people down along racial and economic lines. We believe that each of us, no matter who we are, should have a meaningful say in the decisions that affect our lives. And, that principle is fundamentally incompatible with the white supremacist ideas and structures brought to the forefront in recent years.
2021-01-18 Green Party As we commemorate the life and work and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, it’s important to remember that he was a radical. Dr. King fought for the rights of cash-poor and marginalized people to live with dignity.
At this time of pandemic and rebellion, when so many people have been failed by their government, the remedies Dr. King called for are so necessary. We need a federal jobs guarantee. We need housing for all. We need Medicare-for-All. We need an end to war.
We need the immediate end of police violence in our communities. We need public community schools that serve all of the needs of students, families and educators.
We need reparations for Black people, as a way to address and remedy some of the unimaginable damage caused by enslavement and systemic racism. We need these things as much now as when Dr. King called for them during his lifetime. We are committed to making his dream of a Beloved Community a reality.
Green Party 2020 Vice Presidential Nominee
2021-01-18 Indivisible Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we think one great way to honor his legacy is by taking on the systemic injustices that have historically made this a country for the few, not the many.
In 2021, we’re taking action and demanding justice for the 700,000 people who’ve been disenfranchised in the District of Columbia. One of the key priorities outlined in our latest Indivisible Guide is democracy reform, and that starts with addressing critical racial justice and civil rights issues like D.C. statehood. Historically, racist politicians have prevented D.C. from becoming a state because the city has long been a majority Black city. If you’re ready to start charting a new path forward, start calling your members of Congress this week and demand they support the D.C. statehood bill (H.R. 51). Then, keep reading for more on Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement of today.
While we encourage our movement to reflect on King’s words, teachings, and impact, it’s important to recognize that King’s legacy has largely been sanitized and made more palatable for white audiences. Democratic Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock spoke of this in 2018, drawing on the history of the Civil Rights Movement and his own experience as a pastor at the same church as King. He said, “When Dr. King died we resurrected a new Martin Luther King Jr., one who does not make us too uncomfortable … He was the best kind of patriot because he loved the country enough to tell the country the truth.”
Like a mirror held up before the country, King was honest about America’s plagues — the white-supremacist violence, the racial segregation, the institutionalized discrimination and disenfranchisement — and for being honest, he was assassinated. In his ‘Letters From Birmingham Jail’, King expressed that freedom is never given voluntarily — it must be demanded.
We can never forget that when demanding more power, when making the institutions that exploit us uncomfortable and quake, there will be a struggle. America was founded on the oppression of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples, and our democracy was rigged from the start. If we hope to make our democracy as inclusive and representative as possible, we’re going to have to demand change, and expect a backlash from those who are in power.
2021-01-17 Innocence Project On MLK Day: The Continuing Quest for Justice and Fairness We must reckon with the hard truth that racial discrimination leads to wrongful conviction. Our work to free the staggering number of innocent people in American jails and prisons and to reform the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment is more urgent than ever. In this quest, we cannot be “more cautious than courageous.” Nor can we “remain silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows,” as Dr. King wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail.
2021-01-18 KPFA “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve.” MLK, Jr.
Please join me in welcoming back our National Day of Service by giving to others on this day. I’ll be spending the afternoon mucking the stalls and cleaning the hooves of the equine members of the National Park Service, but the ways to assist others are myriad. If you are so led, AmeriCorps and the Presidential Inaugural Committee have gathered together a list of safe and vital volunteer opportunities in your area, or in your virtual arena, RIGHT HERE.
2021-01-18 Move to Amend On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, amid our rapidly shifting political landscape, this MLK quote feels most salient:
At Move to Amend, we’ve never shied away from the labels “radical” (which means exposing and changing the root/core/foundation of problems) or “extremist.” Why? Because we are already living under extreme conditions.
What other choice do we have but to be extremists and radicals when the climate is collapsing, corporate rule and white nationalist fascism are consolidating all around us, and our government is barely doing the minimum to address our acute crises??
And we still need to build the people power necessary to oppose these forces in a meaningful way that can correct the disastrous course we are on!
Love is real democracy. Love is healthcare for all. Love is having the freedom to stay home and feel safe during a pandemic. Love is safety and comfort for refugees and asylum seekers. Love is ending homelessness forever. Love is choosing to listen to leaders on the front lines of struggle when they say “Defund the Police” and “Land Back”…
While we can celebrate the reprieve of some of the most hateful extremists for the moment, make no mistake that they are already finding new ways to organize, deceive, and come back stronger than before.
And even with this transfer of power we are going through, it is all still very much within a status quo of corporate rule, that has no plans to cease its systemic oppression, poisoning and plunder.
In fact, Corporate America is scrambling to rebrand itself as we speak in hopes of whitewashing its complicity in the political nightmare we find ourselves in today. We must remain ever vigilant and critical of these entities, regardless of whether they position themselves “pro” or “anti” Trump, or whether they claim to support a social cause we care about.
Because if we truly had democracy, we wouldn’t need to look to these corporations to draw the lines in the sand for us. We would have drawn those lines ourselves a long time ago.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is still a beacon of clarity to those of us in the fight for a system that is based in genuine democracy, justice and love. May we all take some time today to meditate on his life and words, and (re)commit ourselves to applying them going forward. And we are proud to call ourselves “extremists” for the cause.
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
-The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It certainly has been a dark time in our country, as the distressing recent storming of the Capitol by a white supremacist mob showed us, and we aren’t out of the proverbial woods yet. But there are solid reasons to believe the new Congress and Administration will quickly move to make the world a safer and more peaceful place.
The focus will of course be on COVID, the economy, and domestic priorities, but on war and peace issues, we should see progress and some victories very early in the year including:
- Extending the New START treaty with Russia, and perhaps laying the groundwork for further nuclear weapons reductions;
- Ending U.S. support for the calamitous civil war in Yemen, and also possibly curbing U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and its allies;
- Re-entering the Iran Anti-Nuclear Agreement and Paris Climate Accord.
Of course, with your continued support and the activism of our grassroots network, Peace Action will also push hard for slashing Pentagon spending, reviving diplomacy for peace on the Korean Peninsula, and ending devastating economic sanctions and militarization of the police.
But first, I ask you to pause for a minute to help us honor the memory of one of our country’s finest drum majors for justice. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta were early supporters of SANE, as our organization was called at its founding in 1957, and Coretta is credited with helping shape her husband’s position against the Vietnam War.
To honor them, please consider how you might best act in their memory in your local community. Besides my work for Peace Action, I support a local organization helping feed the hungry and unhoused outside Washington, DC, and local community radio stations helping spread progressive news and views. I’m sure you also do things to help better your community, and if you need more ideas on how to do that or to encourage others to do so, AmeriCorps has a website with helpful resources.
We know, as Dr. King did, that racism, militarism and economic exploitation, the intertwined Giant Triplets he decried decades ago, still plague our society. As a new year with many dangers but also possibilities dawns, please join me in re-dedicating to the struggle for a more peaceful and just society.
Many of us recognize the ongoing reality of white supremacism for the very real threat it is — as a kind of defect in our national DNA (and going all the way back to 1492) that we still have not invested anywhere near enough in curing. So — on a day when we honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. — I wanted to share a few of Dr. King’s insightful and inspiring words:
From King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (April 16, 1963):
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”
From King’s “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” speech at Riverside Church (April 4, 1967):
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. … We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
From King’s speech announcing the Poor People’s March on Washington (December 4, 1967):
America is at a crossroads of history, and it is critically important for us, as a nation and a society, to choose a new path and move upon it with resolution and courage. … Consider, for example, the spectacle of … a nation gorged on money while millions of its citizens are denied a good education, adequate health services, decent housing, meaningful employment, and even respect, and are then told to be responsible.
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
The U.S. discretionary budget devotes more to the military than to everything else combined. This spending generates wars, rather than preventing them. It destroys the natural environment, enriches the wealthy, drains the economy, erodes civil liberties and government transparency, fuels bigotry, and is a major source of death, injury, and homelessness.
Last summer, the public told pollsters it favored moving 10 percent of military spending to human and environmental needs, but the U.S. Congress voted down a proposal to do just that. Now President-elect Joe Biden is proposing massive spending packages, to be funded primarily through debt, with no mention of the military budget.
Biden’s proposal to immediately spend $1.9 trillion on the pandemic and economy (as well as boosting the minimum wage to $15/hour) has a lot that’s good in it, though it could be made better in a number of ways. It could be significantly funded by increased taxes on the super-wealthy, something Biden campaigned on. It should also be funded by tax dollars redirected from the military budget.
Problems with borrowing the necessary money include (1) it costs more than it looks like, because of interest, (2) it’s harder to pass through Congress, (3) it further empowers the people who loan the money, and especially (4) it creates a major lost opportunity to move funding out of places where it shouldn’t be into places where it should be. It also fuels the “big government” vs “small government” debate, displacing the badly needed “what kind of government” debate.
Pandemic rescues, economic rescues, and Green New Deals should not fail to draw on the massive, counterproductive funding that goes each and every year into militarism. Nor should they fail to take advantage of the plans and scholarship that have for decades been poured into the project of conversion to peaceful industries. Action
2021-01-18 World Beyond War “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
The U.S. discretionary budget devotes more to militarism than to everything else combined. This spending generates wars, rather than preventing them. It destroys the natural environment, enriches the wealthy, drains the economy, erodes civil liberties and government transparency, fuels bigotry, and is a major source of death, injury, and homelessness.
Last summer, the U.S. public told pollsters it favored moving 10% of military spending to human and environmental needs, but the U.S. Congress voted down a proposal to do just that. Now President-Elect Joe Biden is proposing massive spending packages, to be funded primarily through debt, with no mention of the military budget. Click here to ask your Representative and Senators to join the Military Spending Reduction Caucus being created by Congress Members Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan, and to insist on immediately moving at least 10% of military funding to urgent projects (including all assistance required by every worker impacted by this shift).