Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King’s dream of a one big tent America where all are included and none are left behind is incomplete. Yet, the quest is irreversible. Dr. King marched, took the risks to transform our culture, and create the America we now celebrate. . He was martyred at 39. His uplifting sermons, the miles walked and his martyrdom will not be altered by cynicism and schemes of diversion.
One gets the impression that Glen Beck is cynically mimicking Dr. Martin Luther King. His is an insincere expression, a ploy to divert attention away from the Dr. King’s agenda for jobs, economic justice and peace.
One would hardly think that he would have marched with Dr. King, or protested with him, or gone to jail protesting for equality and justice. Dr. King challenged legal segregation in America, the institutional structures resulting in racial inequality and poverty.
He challenged the bloated military budget and the War in Vietnam that was diverting resources away from the War on Poverty at home. His last campaign was to lead a Poor People’s Campaign to eradicate mass poverty, illiteracy, and disease. He advocated for full employment for every American, a job or an income now.
Today 50 million people are deemed food insecure – they can’t get three meals a day. 40 million people live in poverty. Millions of urban and rural qualify for free lunch programs. 27 million are unemployed, millions are homeless or without adequate housing. There are 18.9 million vacant American homes; 14.25 million of those are rental units. When housing vouchers opened up in East Point, GA/Atlanta area, 30,000 showed up in need of housing.
Dr. King would have focused on America’s abandoned zones – from Appalachia to Alabama to urban Detroit. He would have cried out against the bank bail out, not linked to saving homes or investing in communities. He would cry out for a moratorium on home foreclosures.
Dr. King would be working to rebuild America and put America back to work, to lift those at the bottom. He would work tirelessly to see his dream of equal, high quality education, health care and full employment, and an end to unnecessary wars, become reality. That’s the legacy and learning of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement that we honor today.