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Date: Thu, 4 Jan 1996 20:16:48 CST
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
From: Jim Davis <jdav@mcs.com>
Subject: Martin Luther King's greatest legacy
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>

Martin Luther King's Greatest Legacy: The Challenge to Become a Revolutionay for Justice

By Abdul Alkalimat, The People's Tribune, 4 January 1996

Martin Luther King (1929-1968) was a great leader. He emerged out of the radical religious tradition of the African American people. At the same time, he represented the best morality-based politics of the American radical tradition. He is remembered because he represented a mass social movement that was developing a revolutionary vision, for black people, for all American people, for the world.

King was the greatest leader of the civil rights movement. By the mass protest campaign in Birmingham, Alabama (1963), after the mass struggles of Montgomery, Alabama (1955-56) and Albany, Georgia (1961), King began to link civil rights to economic issues. His words make it plain:

"The Negro today is not struggling for some abstract, vague rights, but for the concrete and prompt improvement in his way of life. ... The struggle for rights is, at bottom, a struggle for opportunities. ... I am proposing, therefore, that just as we granted a GI Bill of Rights to war veterans, America launch a broad-based and gigantic Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged, our veterans of the long siege of denial." (Why We Can't Wait)

We now live in a time when both major political parties have abandoned this vision of America as a just society -- especially economic justice. In a just society, hunger would be illegal, as would homelessness, illness and all other results of poverty. By the end of his life, King was clear on what the fight for justice involved. King challenged the American people to start a new American revolution. This is his most important message:

"The dispossessed of this nation -- the poor, both white and Negro -- live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against that injustice, not against the lives of the persons who are their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which society is refusing to take means which have been called for, and which are at hand, to lift the load of poverty." (Trumpet of Conscience)

It is important to remember our fallen leaders by the challenges they faced, and that they placed on us. King will not have died in vain if we can fulfill his desire for us to become revolutionaries, not in our hundreds but in our millions.

This article originated in the PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE (Online Edition), Vol. 23 No. 1 / January 8, 1996; P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, pt@noc.org or WWW:


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