Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Strength to Love /
The Measure of a Man /
Why We Can't Wait
A Testament of Hope /
A Knock at Midnight /
The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., 1948-1963
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community /
Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story
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of the 1963
By Lil Joe
In itself the
commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington and memories of
Martin Luther King Jr. is galvanizing, appropriate and it is
quite good to want to rekindle the “spirit of the
sixties." But what spirit?
The spirit of reformist preachers, that resulted in
making the “leaders” of the 60s becoming Democratic Party
politicians and millionaires?
These are the same politicians at the commemoration rally
for whom rekindling the spirit of the 60s means no more than
voter registration for next years presidential election.
The Democratic Party's Negroes are showing their
usefulness by using this commemoration to rally Blacks to vote
for the Democrats in next year's election.
Or the spirit of
the poor and oppressed Black workers and unemployed, who were in
the streets fighting racism, police brutality and poverty. that
was the true, phenomenology of the spirit of the revolutionary
60s. These were the people with whom King stood, was educated
by, and whose spirit of protest he came to personify.
Martin Luther King Jr. and the Movement he represented,
and has in retrospect come to personify, was not a Jesse
Jackson/Andrew Young/ Mfume type hustler of Blacks for the
Democratic Party, but stood in opposition to that Party -- its
war in Vietnam for example.
It was against a
Democratic Party dominated government that King was organizing
the poor peoples March on Washington.
Compared to the poor peoples campaign against poverty,
that King was organizing in 1968 when he was assassinated, the
1963 March would have been, by comparison, nothing more than the
picnic that Malcolm X exposed in "Message to the Grass
Roots" in 1964.
advanced and consequently King evolved over time. In other
words, King was the product of the Movement, which he came to
represent. As the
Civil Rights Movement came in collisions with its original
narrow focus – ending legalized racial segregation within
capitalism, and restriction to domestic 'moral' issues – King
had to evolve or by standing still become reactionary.
King evolved into a critique of the economic as well as
racial inequalities in American capitalism.
Recognizing the extremes of wealth and poverty in this
country inevitably led him to recognize this in the world
itself, the impoverished masses of the 3rd world's people.
revolutionary times. All over the globe men are
revolting against old systems of exploitation and
oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new
systems of justice and equality are being born. The
shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up
as never before. The people who sat in darkness have
seen a great light. We in the West must support these
Both King and
Malcolm X participating in the praxis engendered in the Struggle
against racism and came to realize that the capitalist system is
itself the external reality internalized by members of this
society, with its systemic divisions of society between the very
rich with government access, and the very poor with none.
Racism cannot be separated from capitalism because
monopoly ownership of the productive forces by a wealthy
minority lie at the basis of the brutality of class
exploitation, racial oppression and political repression both in
this country (the U.S.) and the world.
Like Malcolm X, who
upon his break with the Americanized version of racial
"Islam," came to see a global struggle between the
worlds people of color and the European and American "White
Man," King came to identify with the worlds oppressed
perception was more sophisticated, however. Whereas Malcolm saw
it as a struggle of the worlds people of color against the White
Man, particularly the American "White Man," King on
the contrary understood what he saw in class terms, siding with
"the shirtless and bootless" people of the 3rd World.
This is important
because it also is consistent with King's opposition to U.S.
mechanized warfare in Vietnam -- which resulted in 3,000,000
Vietnamese killed, millions missing and millions maimed for
life. King wanted
to travel to Vietnam, and as a human shield stand in the rice
patties with the shirtless bootless Vietnamese peasants.
Taking a stand with
the impoverished of the 3rd world, King also extended his
struggle against racial oppression of Blacks in this country
into a struggle of All America's Poor, a War on Poverty.
King said America's arms spending to dominate the world
was at the expense of the American poor.
"Although Malcolm X understood this in economic
reality, saying, "the capitalists are bloodsuckers; show me
a capitalist and I'll show you a bloodsucker," it was King
understood the class dynamics and organized for class
This Martin Luther
King, Jr. is suppressed by the Democratic Party's spectacle in
Washington, DC last week, ostensibly 'commemorating' the 1963
March on Washington and Kings "Speech."
When last week on C-SPAN I watched the Democratic Party
hacks and presidential candidates praising of Martin Luther
King, Jr. I was reminded of something Lenin said in The State
lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing
classes constantly hounded them, received their
teachings with the most savage malice, the most furious
hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and
slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert
them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say,
and to surround their names with a certain halo for the
"consolation" of the oppressed classes and
with the object of duping the latter, while at the same
time emasculating the essence
of the revolutionary teaching, blunting its
revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.
The Martin Luther
King, Jr. presented to the public this week and last, ostensibly
commemorating the 1963 March on Washington is not the warrior
who confronted the government in opposition to war and poverty
but the Baptist preacher dreaming about a better America where
folk of various ethnic groups will get along.
They did not give speeches about the King that came to
realize that it is not Blacks, Whites, Jews, and Gentiles per se
who can by getting along create a paradise, but that the working
poor must come together without ethnic and religion division to
March on Washington as a unified class challenging the economic
The Reverend King
of the 1963 March on Washington was the Negro preacher the
Democratic Party loved, or rather was relatively comfortable
with. In this
connection young folk ought to read Malcolm X's critique of the
March on Washington in his "Message to the Grassroots."
In the end, toward
the end of their lives both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm
X had begun to speak on the economic basis for poverty and
oppression in America. The
King's last project was organizing a Poor People's Campaign, to
march on Washington. King
was organizing a cadre of activists from the poorest of the
poor, the Appalachian minors to the Detroit unemployed
autoworkers to the farm workers in the fields of California.
opposition to the War in Vietnam and his focus on the economy of
poverty put him out of favor with the government.
In the context of the 60s King was galvanizing the poor
and oppressed indicating that oppression could not end until
poverty has ended.
Malcolm X, while
advocating revolution in speeches was promoting Black capitalism
in practice. Both
Malcolm and Martin were regarded as dangerous.
But King was also organizing the poor and participating
in workers strikes. The
organized labor movement had participated in the Civil Rights
movement and the 1963 march on Washington to
change the economy.
King was a
dangerous Negro, and the government sent its agents out to
discredit, or perhaps even kill him. – The Government at the
time was a Democratic President backed by Democratic majorities
in both the House and the Senate.
The same party politicians who last week had the nerve to
stage a spectacle ostensibly in "commemoration of the 1963
March on Washington."
This was the Party in power when Martin Luther King, Jr.
was assassinated! The
theme of that rally was not to take up where King left off,
organizing poor people – that is the working-class – into an
independent political force, but to "register Blacks and
poor to vote in next years presidential election" -- it was
a Democratic Party hootenanny!
Martin Luther King,
Jr. and Malcolm X and Huey P. Newton are in retrospect
personifications of the Black protest spirit of the 1950s to the
with them in politics in the arts were Dick Gregory; Charlie
Mingus, Nina Simone, Oscar Brown Jr., Archie Shepp, Marvin Gay
and of course John Coltrane and Pharaoh Saunders.
To get a feel of
this Spirit I suggest to young people that they check out:
Martin Luther King Jr. Letter from
Birmingham Jail and
Where Do We Go from Here? and Coltrane's "Africa," "Alabama,"
Kulu Se Mama and
"Selflessness" (which were made in LA in 1965 -- the
year of the "Watts Rebellion"), "Crescent"
and "Peace on Earth" on the CD "Concert in
Japan," "Reverend King" and Trane's final
"Message to the Grass Roots" and "The Ballot or
CDs "Fire Music," "Philly Jo Jones,"
Panther Party 10 Point Program.
"Fables Of Faubus,"
The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady
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"Mississippi Goddamn," "Four Women," and
Jr.'s "40 Acres and a Mule"
World Is A Ghetto"
"Don't Let Money Rule You"
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
The Last Poets:
"Ho Chi Minh" and "When the Revolution
Marvin Gay's CD
"What's Going On?"
CDs "Tauhid" and "The Karma"
Earth, Wind and
Fire: "Head to the Sky"
The struggle continues.
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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updated 15 2011