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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/15/18

Would Dr. King Take a Knee? 6 Ways His Radical Spirit Lives Today

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Dr. King said this, too, in his 1967 Christmas sermon on peace:

"...when we say Thou shalt not kill, we're really saying that human life is too sacred to be taken on the battlefields of the world. Man is more than a tiny vagary of whirling electrons or a wisp of smoke from a limitless smoldering."

He undoubtedly would have opposed the extrajudicial drone killings ordered by our current president and his two predecessors, and the torture campaigns orchestrated by the CIA.

This element of his spirit does not live on amongst the 117 Democratic members of the House, and the 41 Democratic senators, who joined their Republican colleagues in voting for an extravagant $770 billion boost to what was already the largest military budget in human history. They include some people who have been widely characterized as "progressive heroes."

These politicians stand rebuked by the words Dr. King spoke to the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace in 1967:

"Congress appropriates military funds with alacrity and generosity. It appropriates poverty funds with miserliness and grudging reluctance. The government is emotionally committed to the war. It is emotionally hostile to the needs of the poor."

The New Poor People's Campaign

"A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth." -- Beyond Vietnam, 1967

Dr. King's spirit surely lives on in the recent revival of his Poor People's Campaign, the project he was focused on at the time of his murder in 1968. This new initiative, led by Revs. William Barber and Liz Theoharis, plans 40 days of action this spring at statehouses around the country to protest King's "triple evils" of racism, poverty and militarism, and ecological devastation. This new campaign describes itself as "A National Call for Moral Revival."

The original Campaign had a highly progressive economic agenda. It called for $30 billion to be spent every year on anti-poverty programs. That would amount to roughly $213 billion per year in today's dollars, or $2.13 trillion over a 10-year period. That may sound astronomical, but it's not much more than Congress just gave away in tax breaks skewed toward the rich.

King's Campaign was scheduled to begin with the construction of a shantytown on the national Mall in Washington, DC, followed by a civil disobedience and mass arrests, and concluding with a nationwide boycott of major corporations and shopping areas to pressure business leaders to support its goals.

The original Poor People's Campaign also called for a program of guaranteed employment and guaranteed income for all Americans, as well as the construction of 500,000 low-cost housing units each year until all slums were eliminated.

Jobs, income and housing for all. King's vision is as radical and urgent today as it was 50 years ago. For a society dominated by the wealthy, one that has given so much to the few for so long, can surely do this much for the many.

Dr. King's spirit lives on in the new Poor People's Campaign, and in every place radicals gather to change the world.

Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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