(ATLANTA)-- Last week, Tea Party backed U.S. Representative Allen West, (R-FL) declared that Martin Luther King, Jr., would not have supported the "Occupy Wall Street" protests or movement because West's family lived up on the same block as the King family in Alabama. Following the historic dedication of the monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the Mall--I respectfully disagree with this provocative supposition based on the body of King's advocacy as a civil rights leader and the co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
The central theme of Occupy Wall Street seems to be against corporate greed and social inequality. The demonstrations are centered around the fundamental unfairness, and disparities of wealth and income caused by Wall Street and our current banking system, which preys on middleclass Americans.
Isaac Newton Farris, Jr., the new President for the SCLC has to be wondering what to do about Occupy Wall Street/Atlanta? This is a young people's "movement" which is unruly and diffuse without any specific goals or policy agenda. And worse they are so small "D" democratic they actually snubbed Representative John Lewis (D-GA) a civil rights icon, when he tried to address the group in Woodruff Park.
Woodruff Park in Downtown Atlanta hosted hundreds of protestors for Occupy Wall Street/Atlanta, which earned the dubious distinction of refusing to allow U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA) to speak before the gathering crowd. Which is ironic since John Lewis is an African-American Democrat and a veteran of the civil rights movement. Occupy Atlanta snubbed the civil rights icon.
Effective organizing is very difficult, even Dr. Martin Luther King need help. Black labor taught the civil rights movement how to organize. People forget when the Montgomery Bus Boycott took place, they sought the assistance of Asa Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin for strategy, tactics and funding. And while people today believe that Martin Luther King's March on Washington. It was really organized by A. Phillip Randolph, and it was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A. Phillip Randolph was reaching back to Martin Luther King as a youth activist/leader--who ultimately stole the show.
Under King's leadership when the youth became so disheartened with the non-violent tactics employed by the civil rights movement and started to rebel--the SCLC embraced and guided youth groups by starting the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The rational was simple, the youth had all the energy and vigor needed for the movement, but they lacked the wisdom and maturity to harness that energy into effective advocacy. The SCLC embraced the [bucking] youth and guided and supported their efforts.
Today, democratic leaders are unsure of what to with, or how to deal with Occupy Wall Street, but labor is supporting them. In the same sprit of Dr. Martin Luther King and SNCC--I believe that the SCLC should support and guide the Occupy Wall Street/Atlanta movement. Not try to take it over or co-op it, but mentor, teach and guide these energetic young people into effective advocacy.
Presently, Occupy Wall Street/Atlanta seems to be a movement without a clear purpose. They didn't have a definitive list of demands or an established protocol to allow community and elected officials to address the group. What are your concerns? What are your demands? We don't really know. In my opinion, the SCLC and Occupy Wall Street/Atlanta should be concerned with the following--
1) Judicial Corruption
2) Public Corruption
3) Non-judicial Foreclosure
4) Foreclosure Fraud
5) Mortgage Fraud
6) Predatory Lending