For far too long, the legacy of Dr. King has been reduced to having a dream. In doing so, a large portion of the service and sacrifice to the progression of Black people and the working class has been forgotten or merely an afterthought. Defining a man’s life’s work to a moment is to fracture the importance of the work that was done by not only Dr. King but those that were around him along the way. I have witnessed the shifting of Dr. King’s legacy from a communist radical to a political talking point used to silence and reprimand others against standing against a system of oppression. Every year the Dr. King holiday comes around and we are called on by our fellow humans to put on some pacificist spirit and turn our cheek against an oppressive and regressive system of brutality and inhumanity that in my opinion would make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shutter in disgust and dismay. I feel as if Dr. King would not have wanted his work to be weaponized and trivialized as a tool of acceptability and respectability against others looking to create change through civil disobedience.
Ani Mozelle Baraka Dela Croix
Alabama Greens Co Chair
Mobile Bay Green Party Co Chair
Mobile Bay GP Black Caucus
I learned about MLK about the same time this song was in regular rotation at my house in rural NC. MLK made it easy to “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m proud”.
George Friday, NBC Co-Founder NBC
What Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday Means to Me
By: Veronika Fimbres, CA.
I was born in Detroit, Michigan. When I was eleven, I watched our black and white television in horror when I saw men on horses attacking Black people. It was in Selma, it was in Montgomery, it was in the South. Firehoses, dogs, being sicced on women and children and men…all Black. I was deeply disturbed and my Mother could see it! I wanted to do something! I wanted to help. My Mother told me that I could do something that would help the “cause”, and what those people that looked like me were fighting for. I asked her “What?” On that day, I joined the NAACP, the Negro Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I would like to think that I made a difference. I remember all of the fights and struggles that MLK went through, in the effort to have us treated equally under the law, and to give us the opportunity to vote. His struggle was ours! As we celebrate his birthday, I believe he would be astonished at where we are today. On this day, I am reminded that the struggle continues, on so many things! Reproductive freedom, LGBTQIA+ rights, and most shockingly, the right to vote! Like MLK, I truly believe that we shall overcome someday! I hope that I am around to see it.
Martin stood for peace - peaceful resistance as a vehicle for a peaceful future for global society. He was a peace activist, resisting war through non-violent struggle and naming militarism as one of the chief evils of the world. Martin also encouraged nuclear disarmament, communicating that this was an unthinkable threat to the species and to the earth. Living together in community was his goal for humanity. For this, we should be proud.
With the quote “Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” I embrace the belief that The Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. organized for, was intended to truly insure equal protections under the law, for everyone, no matter what race, color, religion, sex or national origin. So even though Dr. King was a Black Man; he was on a crusade to fight for All Men of his race and color, to be treated equal under the law. A crusade so magnanimous, it would benefit Every Man, Woman and Child in the United States. It is very unfortunate that many not of Dr. King's race and color fear civil rights as a “black thing.” Rather than know, as I do, that Dr. King's dream for civil rights was meant to bring together, people of every race, color, religion, sex and national origin... to recognize We are indeed equal.
I just finished watching “MLK/ FBI” for the second time in two weeks. I am just as upset the second time around at the harassment that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. encountered while struggling for basic Civil Rights for Black Americans. The amount of strength and deep courage it must have taken to lead the nation in this movement, especially beginning at the young age of 27! I think of all of the setbacks that I have experienced while joining in the fight towards progress…how some of the orchestrated efforts to demoralize, suppress, slander and demean on multiple levels has affected me and are yet just a drop in the bucket compared to the sacrifices and suffering of Martin Luther King Jr. , his family, and countless others who had to struggle not only against society, but the governments’ many and varied attempts to sabotage the Movement. When watching this, we come to embrace the realization that no matter what the obstacles presented, they can be overcome. Some have heard it said that there has not been another great Black Civil Rights leader since MLK. Of course this is not true- we are ALL leaders. However thanks to people bringing awareness of how the Government continues to surveil people fighting for positive change in American Society even to this day and the widespread use of it, it becomes more and more difficult for progress when cases continue to emerge about government informants and agents among us. The latest famous case is that of Red Fawn Fallis in the #NODAPL Water Protectors Movement where the FBI sent an agent that became her boyfriend, used the information he gathered and testified in court against her with all of the information he collected. As activists, we have to be aware that the same efforts to prevent MLK from leading systemic changes in America are going on in 2022 and that we are all MLKs today. No, there has not been one great leader. We are all great leaders! We have a Dream that one day, a racist government will become an ally as opposed to finding ways to utilize countless resources to try to put a stop to movements towards equality in this country. We have a Dream that one day, people from all walks of life will actually be representative at the table in our democracy. It begins with us, as US Greens continuing the work and progress of those that have come before us. It begins with us, as National Black Caucus Greens, to continue this work and remain on the same page of actual, measurable progress and not allow those who do not have our best interests at heart to disrupt, distract, and derail the legacy of our Movement. We all inherit the legacy gifted to us by Martin Luther King Jr. and we can remain strong by sending any attempts to stop us into a frenzy trying to figure out who to target when there are too many options to choose from. MLK is not just a day- it’s every day. Let’s make 2022 a good year for Progress.
Member, National Women’s Caucus, National Lavender Caucus
State of Minnesota
The legacy of Dr. King means a lot to me, because as an older African American man I personally have experienced the pains of living in a racist society. Being the youngest of ten kids I was often coached and told the limitations that we have being Black in America. My older siblings made sure I knew where to go, and what to say under certain circumstances especially when dealing with the Police. In the 50's my mom told me and my six brothers not to go out and mess with the police because they don't like us. I didn't realize then but today I realize what she was doing was giving us survival skills.
In 1955 when Emmett Till was killed in Mississippi I was ten years old. I didn't leave the house for almost a month because I thought all black boys would be killed for little or no reason at all. So today I honor the legacy of Dr. King for allowing not only America but the world to know the experiences WE, Black people deal with on a daily basis.
This fact was reinforced with the murder of George Floyd. The world we live in is very diverse. It is sad that everyone cannot and does not accept the diverse world we live in.
A. London Hawkins
NBC Affiliate member
State of Minnesota
My name is Darnella Wade, and I am the Co-Chair of the 4th Congressional District of Minnesota’s Green Party. Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is important for me to highlight the life and journey of one of the most influential person of our generation. Rev. Dr, Martin Luther King Jr. a person who has inspired not just myself, but all people, around the world. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King could be the spokesperson for the National Green Party. His life exemplifies the 10 Point Platform in the most peculiar way. Fighting against social, racial injustices, historical actions, marches and speeches that if you listened, and believed they would inspire you to choose life even through the darkness, choose to be the light. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his life, has faced the same challenges that we face today. Taking a nonviolent stance and making it a blueprint for one to follow. Dr. King fighting a world perspective he stood up to reshape the minds of what others thought of the Black man, and bringing to light the humanity of our people. From cotton picking to the Nobel Peace Prize the life of Martin Luther King Jr. has enlightened the image and opened the doors to opportunities for the people of Color. Not just in word but, in action as well. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought up in a Southern Baptist Church in America yet inspired by Gandhi shows the vast ability to emphasize with others. Educated, as well, not just in mind, but in soul. “What is the blueprint of your life?” A question that pierces my soul as I sit and listen to the words of righteousness come out of the mouth of Mr. King, authentic and inspirational, I knew this man was sent to mankind from God. Accepting his position and his call to service, which seems to be the sublime oath of an organizer.
My son is a 5 year survivor of gun violence, committed by our own people. A family once again shattered by inner-city gun violence. What is a mother to do? Hurt and uneducated in regards to the medical struggle that my son is now faced with and at the same time, thrust into the fight against gun violence. Black Truce was created, “Take the Pledge of Peace!” is our Battle Cry and our Motto Inspired by a Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King quote: “ Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It was the words that I allowed to heal me and it has been 5 years that my son was shot and 4 years our organization has been established. Being a mother, grandmother and 24 year member of the Welfare Rights Committee which is a group of citizens, mostly ran by women that advocate for and teach others how fight harmful attacks on the women, children and the working poor on the legislative level. How could I be angry at a delusional and foolish child? How can I remain angry at a child blinded by the darkness of mankind disregarded by the system? A child who lack respect for life, his and others, yes, I had to learn to live and forgive a person who tried to take my child’s life, one of our own, for we are one. Realizing I am more of a Green Party Member, looking at the 10 Values of the Green Party; I made the transition. Nonviolent was the way. Has my son healed? No. He has a long way to go. But, he was alive and worth fighting for. Like our People, on our journey to the Promised Land. Do we feel the pain of poverty? Yes, we do, but we forge forward and through the darkness? Indeed. Like Dr. King peaceful resistance and continual public pressure against any issue can and in due time, will change all things for the better. Staying nonviolent is the protocol!
Like Dr. King said pay attention to your blueprint, he left me with this important message: Don’t allow anyone to bring you down as to make you hate them, don’t allow anyone to make you lose your self- respect and you stop fighting for justice, let no one make you feel like you are a nobody (You are Somebody, made for this moment and have a purpose from God), stay committed to the Eternal Principals of Beauty, Love and Justice and standing on a nonviolent platform.
After your gone. Receiving gold medals and congressional recognition after his death seems to be how this world recognizes the heroes. Did he make it to the Promise land? Perhaps not, but Dr. King is the modern day Moses that keeps us forging forward and perhaps the citizens of that Promised Land. Dr. King not only fought for Civil rights he also was an advocate of reparations and the debt due to the People of Color. Is reparations the promised Land that of which he speaks? I would gladly say yes. Out of the halls of Justice time after time you hear Dr. King rise up and speak on the debt due to us. “Cut our Check!!” is what the Dr. Ordered and I feel that we should pursue that which is due to us. No longer should the color of our skin be the life-blood of the American prosperity. Our children’s’ future the sacrifice. Contributors to the most wealthiest economic system in the world and the least beneficiaries. Modern day slaves fighting against modern day slave-holders. Gate-keepers portraying as public officials. Trapped in a “whites-only” Jurisdiction and a second class state of mind, resulting in a toxic environment cleverly painted as gaps in disparities. Disparities that persist too long become a way of life and this way of life has systematically lead to what I call genocide. So today, MLK Day 2022, I ask we all pick up the torch of The King. The King in Heaven. The same King that inspired Martin Luther King Jr. to rise from a boy to a man, a Reverend to a Doctor and from a historical icon to the continual, spiritual architect of the blueprint of the people who will reach the Promised Land, called Reparations where Justice and humanity is required, demanded, expected and received and is, ultimately the true freedom our People.
(Submitted by Carl Redwood, GPPA Green Party and NBC member, a speech on )
Dr. King and Labor for RWA Event
Good morning, Brothers and Sisters, comrades, and friends! Welcome to this important event at a critical time in the history of the US. I want to express my gratitude to the Raleigh & Durham Workers Assemblies for asking me to share a few thoughts about Dr. King and his support for Labor.
Every year in January since 1986 we are confronted with what I call the struggle for Dr. King’s legacy. The corporate media, the corporations themselves, the schools and the religious institutions serve up a version of Dr. King that stripd him of the analysis and vision that propelled him through decades of struggle. The focus on his “I Have A Dream” speech and his advocacy of non-violence ignores, if not buries, his view on labor, the economy, war and so much more that is relevant to our struggle for survival, much less social transformation.
Our friend, Charles McKinney, one of our most important historians in this moment suggested that these institutions are “Killing King Again.” James Earl Ray’s bullets took his life on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel and today a well-financed and orchestrated assassination of his body of work has taken place. Charles calls it Martin Luther King, Jr. 2.O. For people seeking the truth and those seeking to end exploitation and oppression, we have to ground ourselves in King 1.0 and enter this struggle for ideas and even more important, take ACTION.
We say that for Workers the best way to celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy is to Organize, Fight for A Union, For Dignity at Work. So let’s briefly put that in context.
If we start with the 1963 speech, we should keep in mind that the March on Washington was for Jobs and Freedom; jobs and freedom. It was called to deal with crippling unemployment of Black people across the country as well as the fight for democratic rights.
But Dr. King was no stranger to the struggles of labor and unions. During the early 1960’s and up until his death he was a supporter of workers struggles. He understood how strong unions in the struggle against the employers was critical to the economic well being of Black workers both in and outside of unions. He spoke at numerous conventions of national and local unions as well as AFL-CIO Conventions. His engagement was not simply seeking support for civil rights work in the South but to share his analysis of what should be the natural and necessary relationship between organized labor and the civil rights movement.
In his speech to the AFL-CIO in 1961 he offers a class analysis of the Black community and a call for unity: “Negroes are almost entirely a working people. There are pitifully few Negro millionaires, and few Negro employers. Our needs are identical with labor's needs — decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor's demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth”
For us in the South we need to remember how clear he was about the region. King was clear about the South and labor At the 1965 Illinois AFL-CIO Convention he said: The South is labor's other deep menace. Lower wage rates and improved transportation have magnetically attracted industry. The wide-spread, deeply-rooted Negro poverty in the South weakens the wage scale there for the white as well as the Negro. Beyond that, a low wage structure in the South becomes a heavy pressure on higher wages in the North.
Dr. King had a strong relationship with the Retail Warehouse Distrbution Workers Union-RWDSU. He supported their contract fights. For example, he was with them in their fight at Bloomingdales Department store in NYC in the early 1960’s. They in turn were key organizers for the March on Washington. And we should take note, fast forwarding, that it was the RWDSU that organized Amazon workers in Alabama for a union election last year, tying their work to their legacy with Dr. King.
Unknown to many was his support for Scripto workers in Atlanta. Some of you may have seen a picture of him with a picket sign saying support Scripto workers. Labor Historian Mike Honey reports that not long after Dr. return to the US from receiving his Nobel Peace Prize, he joined the workers at the plant not too far from his home church Ebenezer Baptist. He was on the picket line and even reached out to the company ( although we might not appreciate his direct contact with them as a rank and file led movement), he was dedicated to supporting them through action.
Dr. King’s labor legacy of course is best seen and noted through his support for the Memphis Sanitation workers. While some of his aides tried to dissuade him from taking time away from the preparations for the Poor Peoples March, he understood the relationship between the strike for safety, higher wages and dignity and the struggle against poverty.
And of course, it was in Memphis where he laid out the notion that “ All Labor has dignity.” This not only had an impact on the consciousness of the strikers and their supporters but is an ongoing call to end the divisions among the ranks of workers based on the type of work we do, how clean it is, how much it pays, not to mention race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status.
The huge legacy of Dr. Kings support for labor showed up in N. C. in four sanitation workers strikes in Charlotte between 1968 and 1971. And in Rocky Mt. in 1978. And in Raleigh in 2006. And that legacy should guide all our work today. Not in the background, but in the foreground.
But let’s be clear, Dr. King didn’t think we were just dealing with some funky employers. He saw it as systemic. As early as 1953 he shared with his wife to be, Coretta Scott, his anti-capitalist views. He had an understanding of the relationship of the economic system and racism, of white supremacy. And he called it out. Although you don’t hear it in King 2.0. He lifted up the triplets of racism, materialism and militarism. He called for the redistribution of wealth in general and reparative justice for the ancestors of the enslaved.
In his opposition to militarism, he called out the US aggression in Vietnam even knowing it would lose him support among politicians, especially Lyndon Johnson, but even other Civil Rights leaders. He was right there with Kwame Ture, then known as Stokely Carmichael, and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, condemning the crimes against the Vietnamese people as they fought for self-determination. He opposed imperialist war and the US foreign policy that it was, and is, built on.
So King was a revolutionary, considered dangerous by those who wanted to maintain the status quo. His views on labor, capitalism and war are the basis on which our movement today must be built and strengthened. It’s how we take advantage of the upsurge of workers through strikes and organizing that we are witnessing. It’s how we honor him. It’s how we uphold his legacy.
I’ll end by borrowing from a slogan from the 1970’s : “Dr.King, Be like him, Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!”
Martin Luther King Jr. will always remind me that one must love the people one wants to serve. He warned us that “power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic”. To me, his day of remembrance is an occasion to read his words and make a commitment to apply them. How many young Martin do we have out there? It is a day to remember the young people in our communities and our duties to empower them unconditionally. Let us all remember that Martin Luther King Jr. was taken away from us at the tender age of 39 years old and it was after enduring the humiliation of that bus ride from Dublin to Atlanta Georgia at 15 years old that he knew that he will not remain inept. That’s why he instructed us that “ Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love”
NBC Haiti Committee Co-Chair
(*Non GPUS affiliated)
In thinking about what we might talk about today, what might serve to both honor Rev. Dr. MLK, Jr and the legacy of the old civil rights movement while propelling us to further dig into the continued evolution of that movement into the modern civil rights movements of our times, I had to do some reflecting and considering. Some of you are old enough to have heard some or all of his speeches; I was born just shy of being able to actually hear him speak but I do feel that my conception is inextricably tied to his life and death. This reflection is about a challenge to take what was a dream for one man, dreamt out of the nightmare people were living, to a realization that to fulfill the dream we have to wake up and take action.
But King said more than I Have A Dream and all the ripples of hope and challenge therein. We have to look at his other words in his speeches but also in his actions. Who he took council from and with, how he was selected to become the voice of the SCLC and how that became a voice for the movement. Where might King have been had he lived? We will never know; but, what does matter is what WE do now. We do NOT have to agree on every tactic or priority but we DO need to find points of solidarity so we can work towards common goals and meet the needs of people. SCLC, CORE, SNCC, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, and so many more made up the movement, not just one man and or one organization. This is not just the legacy of one man it is a legacy of Black thinking, leadership, and ACTION along with allies who are and were also key.
Now, if we want the legacy of King (and these civil rights icons and movement builders) to matter, if we truly want to embrace the message that Black Lives Matter, if we want to honestly say that women deserve safe spaces & equal pay and if we truly believe that LGBTQ folks deserve equitable treatment, then the onus is on US to build together with everyone. Everyone must be welcome at the table and have full voice and agency in the work of the movement. We must recognize that the earth is here for us but is not ours to abuse it; if we truly believe that you deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the wealthiest nation in the world then you have to decide what you will do to ensure that all of this is true and that not only you, but all people can have life, liberty and happiness. As long as people are dying at the hands of the state and police, as long as we colonize and manipulate living conditions, health, wealth and opportunity for people across the globe and as long as hunger, illiteracy, infant mortality, and child poverty persists, I submit to you, you are NOT doing enough. As long as we fight for the right to bear arms more than we fight for the right to live safe and free of fear, you are not doing enough? What are we doing? As long as you see people stigmatized for mental health, addictions, health status such as HIV or refusing to be COVID vaxed (the right to make personal medical choices with their bodies) and for making personal choices of what to do with their bodies, regardless of rape and incest you are not doing enough.
So, if you want to ask yourself what MLK Day means to us and the world we must ask ourselves what we are doing and know that we are not doing enough. Until all PEOPLE are free, judged by their character not their race, gender, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, immigration status, socio-economic status, political affiliation, legal status, or health status. Like King I want to be known as maladjusted because I will never adjust to continued prejudice, demonization, and stigmatizing of any people for any reason. I will never adjust to systemic or political structures that harm and oppress people instead of maintaining equity and equality.
Darryl! LC Moch,
Cochair, National Black Caucus of the Green Party of the United States
Chair, DC Statehood Green Party