MLK Day: Martin Luther King Jr. and Keeping the Dream Alive

Today is MLK Day. 

We’ve seen Dr. King  turned into a “safe”, almost Santa Claus type figure, (even appropriated by racist right-wing media cult-leader Glenn Beck), so it’s especially good to remember what King actually stood for:  Justice.  Peace.  Equality. An end to poverty.

Dr. King spoke up when speaking up was dangerous…as it still is today.Dr. King spoke about the obscenity of war — and on spending countless trillions to kill, while pinching pennies to relieve poverty.  Sadly, this remains unchanged in the U.S.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. “

“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government.”

To read Dr. King’s words is to realize that his work is our work.

Martin Luther King Je. is probably known best for his work for civil rights.  Possibly most people know at least something about the march on Selma.  Tragically, today, textbooks in southern states like Texas now teach their children that the Civil Rights movement was a “mistake” and “had unforeseen consequences”. (Possibly the election of a black President?) The racists of King’s day passed on their racist beliefs to their children – who are now passing it down once again. Yes, there is still much to be done about racial relations in the U.S.

MLK also stood up to end the shameful spectacle of poverty and wealth inequality that is so obvious to anyone who visits here from another country — yet many of us have become blind and numb to it. That’s why we desperately needed Occupy to remind us, to keep the dream alive.

And, so, Dr. King would have been pleased to see the Occupy Movement, with its insistence upon creating a more just society through peaceful activism, conflict resolution, meditation classes, and feeding the poor. He would have recognized the effort to work together and refuse to fight back when attacked in brutal police riots. He lived through police violence and mob violence. He lived through media attacks and misrepresentation. He lived through FBI surveillance and agent provocateurs.

“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” (from the “I Have a Dream” speech)

You can almost imagine him smiling, watching the creativity of the flash mob dances, the theater, the drumming of the Occupy Movement.

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.


An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.


An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.


We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
There is an excellent article on Occupy and Keeping the Dream Alive here.
So today, watch an old video of the “I Have A Dream” speech.  Find out what Martin Luther King was really about.  Read or listen to his powerful words against the Vietnam war.
Find out about the states and politicians that fought against making this day a holiday – just as there are conservatives who are outraged that Barack Obama is our President, who send emails of watermelons on the White House lawn and pray for Obama’s death – these people were dead-set against the creation of  Martin Luther King day.  It is indeed sad and shameful that we still have people like this on our airwaves and holding political office.   And sadder still that most of us silently allow them to control the dialog.
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” (an abridged form of this speech appears on the new MLK memorial)

Cornel West wrote an important article a few months back entitled “Dr. King Weeps From His Grave” and there’s a thoughtful reflection on his original article,  MLK, and the Occupy movement here.

So, watch some videos of King, check out the History Channel and PBS specials on the civil rights movement, and share your favorite MLK quotes on your facebook page today…to help keep the dream alive.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Respect for the law « Rubber Tyres –> Smooth Rides

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