Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 18, 2016

We learn about Martin Luther King Jr. early in our lives. In school, they teach us about his fight for equality for blacks in America. We learn about the peaceful marches, the eloquent speeches, and the fight for justice. We learn about these peaceful marches being met with police dogs, billy clubs, and fire hoses. We learn about the “I Have a Dream” speech. We learn about the power nonviolent civil disobedience can have in overcoming extreme inequality. We learn about the assassination and untimely death of an icon in American history. We don’t learn about Dr. King’s fight for workers across America. Dr. King also opposed the War in Vietnam. He fought for affordable housing for everyone. While Dr. King’s life may have been cut short on that tragic day in 1968, his ideals and fights carry on today.

We can see the same themes in Dr. King’s fight for civil rights in the 1950s and 60s today. The Black Lives Matter movement continues in nonviolent civil disobedience in protest of police killings of black men and women. Their protests in Ferguson, Baltimore, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Madison, and more have all been met with fierce resistance from heavily armed police forces dressed in full combat gear carrying automatic weapons pointed at unarmed citizens. The optics of these current protests and marches are the same as those from years past. The Fight for 15 movement regularly conducts sit ins, walk outs, strikes, and protests to give working class Americans a living wage.  Dr. King was assassinated after giving a speech to striking workers in Memphis, TN. The anti-war movement is alive and well in America after over a decade and a half of endless futile war in the Middle East.

The fights of today show us that Dr. King’s work did not stop with the passage and signing of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. (The Supreme Court is doing their damndest to destroy the Voting Rights Act; but that’s a discussion for another time.) Dr. King’s work is as relevant today as ever. That is why it is so important to celebrate a man who changed America for the better. We need to stay vigilant, and keep pressing until there is real equality for all people. As Dr. King so eloquently put it, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


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