Now that MLK Day is over, allow me to tell you a true story. There was once a man named Martin Luther King Jr. He was a civil rights leader, yes, leading non-violent protests, mostly across the South. He did give the “I Have A Dream” speech, and also suffered violence and imprisonment for his work. All of the stories, dare I even say propaganda you heard yesterday was true. It was all true.
I didn’t write about Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day because I didn’t want to compete with the great image put forward. I mean, the FBI, CIA, and NRA- all groups that were not friends to King in his time- even tweeted out messages remembering the late Dr. King yesterday. Donald Trump even took three minutes (!) out of his day to visit the King Memorial. I wouldn’t dare want to compete with that sanitized version of Dr. King.
So I’ll write about him today. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 90 this year, if it hadn’t been for a sniper assassinating him in Memphis, TN in 1968. I don’t much care in the end if King was killed by James Earl Ray or someone else, because it doesn’t change the story much. If King wasn’t killed on April 4th by Ray, he had enough other people trying. The FBI, the CIA, and probably more government agencies were spying on King, tracking his every move, treating him as an enemy of the state. Local officials in the towns he preached and marched in wanted to arrest or harm him. The Ku Klux Klan wanted to harm him. Other random lunatics wanted to take down Dr. King. Martin Luther King Jr., the lionized hero of today, was the most hated man in America at that time. Let that sink in. We’ve whitewashed our just how bad the opposition to King was.
You see, King wasn’t just a civil rights leader that made eloquent speeches. He was a union organizer. His final speech in Memphis was to striking sanitation workers, mostly African-American, that wanted a living wage. King considered himself a part of SEIU 1199, as he stood with them against drugstore discrimination, and their leader marched with him at Selma. King believed in the dignity of all working men, not an economy based on profits. Yes, he was a “threat” to the prevailing views of business.
The biggest offense of King though was speaking out against the Vietnam War. His anti-war rhetoric left him estranged from even many of the white liberals of the day who had supported Civil Rights legislation. Questioning American military action in Southeast Asia practically made King an enemy of the state. King was a radical. He was probably too radical to ever win elected office, but it’s important we remember that he wasn’t a politician. King was the person the politicians wanted to get rid of.
You’ll have to forgive me for not wanting to step on the likes of Donald Trump, the FBI, and the NRA in their celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. yesterday. I just couldn’t believe Trump would want to celebrate the life of someone who believed in unions, ending Vietnam, the voting rights act, and ending Jim Crow. I figured I’d let him get back to crying for a wall to keep people from Latin America out first.