Monday, January 18, 2010

A Dream Unrealized, But Worth Revisiting for All

In 1968, the very year that would mark the end of his life, Martin Luther King and the SCLC organized the "Poor People's Campaign." Dr. King traveled across the nation to assemble a "multi-racial army of the poor" to demand the Congress create a “bill of rights for poor Americans.” Dr. King demanded nothing less than the "reconstruction of society itself.”

This is a dream as yet unrealized, as I, an American born the year of Dr. King’s assassination will turn 42: soon to be three years his senior this year.

The current recession, as terrible as it may be for my contemporaries, is wreaking havoc on the lives of an entire generation of children living in poverty. Rarely do we talk about the jobless rates’ effects on the youngest of us in America. Dr. King wanted to bring that conversation to the fore as the Vietnam War raged on.

Anyone can be mired in poverty’s cycle. Too many of us are.

It’s important to insist that Dr. king’s legacy is everyone’s. His significance should not be lost on anyone who has ever struggled against unfairness. For anyone to let the color of their skin to preclude them from celebrating Dr. King’s legacy is to deny its central aspirations: unity, fairness, equality for all.

I wish a happy and hopeful Martin Luther King Day to you all, everywhere around the world.



Vigilante said...

Thank you, SJ. And the same to you. Let us not forget that Dr. King also spoke out against expeditionary & exhaustive wars fought in foreign lands in disregard of America's core national interests.

SJ said...

Happy MLK day Vig,

Yessir. Dr. King made very important criticisms of the war then, especially the disproportionate spending on helping Americans versus lining defense contractors pockets.

TRUTH 101 said...

That would make for an interesting investigation. If we had invested the money we spent on Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam on our own people through schools, infrastructure and health care, how many jobs wuld have been created. how much of the poverty we see today would have been eliminated.

People are still less important than bullets. Damn shame.

SJ said...

too bad we can't aim the IRS back at our own government.

TomCat said...

Thanks for a great tribute to a great man, SJ. Dr. King activism transcended civil rights, and needs to be remembered that way, as you have done.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

A great post SJ. 'Trapped in poverty's cycle'... makes me think about how long I've gone from order to order (paycheck to paycheck) and think it over... I've not thought myself poor nor rich or wealthy. I've always just faced whatever there is. Building a small company, this year has been the most challenging I've ever faced and folks wonder why I don't give in. Have you ever had a dream?
I think that speaks to the day... I have dream to follow. Thats my wealth. :-) Thanks for the post, SJ, it brought me some perspective today!

SJ said...

@Tom Cat,
agreed, I read the speech on your blog today over and over again.

I think a fair chance is all anyone ever wants. Many have had the deck stacked against them for too long, and that's what Dr. King couldn't abide. Thanks for sharing in the spirit of the day.

Beach Bum said...

The current recession, as terrible as it may be for my contemporaries, is wreaking havoc on the lives of an entire generation of children living in poverty.

Hey, I'm sure the collective corporate Boards of Directors and shareholders across our country worry about poor people just as long as they don't hurt the annual profit report.

A story recently had some pastor telling poor people it was okay to steal food if you did not have money and were hungry.

Contessa Brewer and some blonde business babe from CNBC were anchoring the afternoon news deck on MSNBC reported on the story.

Contessa, always the prude, said it was breaking the Ten Commandments and the blonde business bimbo looked shocked and worried how it would effect the shareholders and that the cost of stolen items would filter down to customers.

Dear Lord, this is wrong to say but I would love to see them in a situation where they were hungry and with no options to get money other than having to sell their "personal assets" or stealing.

I don't like to assume anything but I figure their concern for the Ten Commandments and the welfare of rich shareholders would not last long.

SJ said...

I'm not one for sympathy either my brother.
Dr. King was a far better man than I'll ever be. (I can't believe I'm older than him now... how the hell did that happen?) I really think white collar criminals have to start getting shipped to regular old, shiv-or-be-shived prison.

All the hypocrisy is just so hard to bear. It's one thing to be born into wealth or never to be touched by hard times, -but some people in our country like to pretend there's some kind of "merited/deserved" poverty. They look at barefoot kids in the Appalachian mountains with the same disgust they aim at a gambler who pissed all his money away... meanwhile they make excuses for criminals on Wall Street.