Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the murder of civil rights, labor rights, human rights and peace activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Much of what Dr. King stressed as concerns are still valid today. He was assassinated after holding a rally for sanitation workers in Memphis, TN, a march which turned violent due to it being infiltrated by FBI agent provocateurs.
As Dr. King noted in his own speeches, many in the so-called liberal establishment and media cheered him on when he called for restaurants and toilets to be desegregated. However, these same forces attacked him when he talked about labor rights and unfair housing in the North and his opposition to the unjust war in Vietnam.
As African-American journalist Tavis Smiley recently remarked on National Public Radio, if Dr. King were alive today, he’d have serious issues with the bailout of Wall Street, our current presence in Iraq and the troop surge in Afghanistan.
In Dr. King’s time, many organizations and churches were infiltrated by military intelligence, the CIA, FBI and local police forces. If Dr. King were alive today, he would be on the front lines raising concerns about some tactics currently being used by DHS and FBI relating to the Muslim community being infiltrated and would probably be under surveillance himself. It’s not a far stretch considering the many years in which the FBI had the King of Pop Michael Jackson monitored.
Just as in Dr. King’s time with groups such as the KKK and the White’s Citizens Council using racial slurs and speaking about how America is being ruined by “others” who aren’t “real Americans,” we now see similar language being invoked by some from the far right within the GOP and Tea Party movement as well as the upsurge in White Supremacist groups like the Aryan Nation and anti-government militias. Instead of being just anti-Black and anti-Jewish however, those who have picked up the mantle of their divisive parent generation now include Latinos and Muslims in their vitriol, former congressman Tom Tancredo being a prime example of this vitriol entering the mainstream.
Despite what many mistakenly pronounced the day President Obama was sworn in, Dr. King’s dream has not become a reality. Those who speak of the civil rights movement in the past tense perhaps never truly understood the essence of it or fell asleep.
All people of good conscious today should remember that the struggle of Dr. King is alive. It’s time to mobilize to make America into a “more perfect union,” which was the emphasis of Dr. King’s work.