This is the weekend that we are supposed to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King. For most of the lamestream media the holiday provides the opportunity to depict Dr. King as a benign figure who might have stepped out of a Hallmark card. What they stress is the fight for racial equality — undoubtedly a laudable aspect of his legacy and certainly worthy of celebration. What they often fail at (or at least downplay) is Dr. King’s challenge to this country to be aware of and correct the economic inequalities that has harm both black and white Americans.
Dr. King’s uncompromising opposition to the Vietnam War crystalized for him one day in 1967 as he was eating lunch and reading a magazine. According to biographer David J. Garrow in”Bearing the Cross,” coming across photos of napalmed Vietnamese kids, King pushed away his plate of food: “Nothing will ever taste any good for me until I do everything I can to end that war.”
In opposing to the Vietnam War, Dr. King warned us that, “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” If he had lived to become an old radical activist, I believe he would never have become so acclaimed. His ongoing opposition to continuing injustices and unnecessary wars would have made him a pariah, scorned in the media and the hallways of power as a crank or extremist.
Surely the media would have dragged his sometimes tawdry personal affairs out in to the open, inciting scorn and cynicism via “gotcha” quotes from “respectable” establishment leaders. Surely, much more would have been made of his past interactions with Communist Party members, forgetting that, until very recently in US history, they were among the few organized groups actively opposed to segregation. Today, no doubt, his relationships with unions and organizing poor people would be cast as the acts of an evil subversive.
The All Peoples Breakfast, on Monday, January 17th, headed into its 23rd year as a time for San Diegans to remember the legacy of Dr. King has selected “The Media and the Movement: From apathy to activism, media as a force for social change” as the theme for this year’s event. I will be joining with other community bloggers on Monday morning from around San Diego to report on the event, live (via Twitter) and after the fact. Our observations will be reposted at the Voice of San Diego, whose evangelism about spreading the good word via social media has made a real impact in the community, especially with the student groups that they have encouraged to break away from dead-tree journalism.
You can follow us on Twitter by searching the hashtag #Allpeoples. (For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, no, you can’t smoke a hashtag). I’ll have a follow up report the day after the event here at the OB Rag.
Let’s end this with one of my fav MLK quotes:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.