Monday, January 18, 2010

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.



On January, 18, 2010, people of all ages and backgrounds will come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and move our nation closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned. Dr. Martin Luther King devoted his life’s work to causes of equality and social justice. He taught that through nonviolence and service to one another, problems such as hunger and homelessness, prejudice and discrimination can be overcome. Dr. King’s teachings can continue to guide us in addressing our nation’s most pressing needs---poverty, economic insecurity, job loss and education.

11 comments:

  1. I'm always disappointed that King's anti-war speeches are never remembered in all these celebrations. Talking about the anti-poverty programs he wrote:


    "...There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

    Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor...."

    http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html

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  2. It seems people remember what they want to remember of someone. Of course focusing on his anti-poverty speeches provides a wider audience to his legacy.

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  3. I seriously doubt that people who don't want to remember King opposed the Vietnam war have much interest in remembering anything else he had to say.

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  4. Living in the South, I'm sure you see a lot more of that than I do. But there does seem to be a conscious effort to silence (or maybe just to forget) the anti-war King. That's a shame because his words are as powerful now as they were then.

    But now we're an equal opportunity military machine. Some of these young recruits -- black and white -- are probably coming from the lower and even middle classes, not just the poor.

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  5. You'll discover in reading Madison, just how powerful war can become in uniting a nation, especially if scores a victory like it did in 1812. It certainly made the generally pacificist "Republicans" more military-minded after the war, with Madison investing heavily (relatively speaking) into the Navy, West Point and National Army.

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  6. I agree -- look what it did for George W. But seems like a great nation should unite around other things than killing people and occupying their countries, but then that's just me I suppose...

    I found the opening of Wills' book at Google, which sets the stage and sort of brings back my reading, but not enough to add to the discussion (the way I read it, he sees the alleged "Madison problem" as one between greatness before his presidency and mediocrity during it -- one I'm assuming he'll counter).

    If you give me some of the themes from Wills, I'll pick them up in Wood et al. until my book gets here (or I can dig it out of the garage -- I have to do that eventually anyway).

    There's an entire chapter on the War of 1812 in Empire of Liberty which I'll read today.

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  7. avrds -- Are we really an equal opportunity military machine? I certainly don't think so, nor do I believe we ever will be short of instituting mandatory military service for all. Most members of our armed forces are still coming from the same kinds of neighborhoods and locales they've always come from.

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  8. You are probably right, Rick.

    I was more responding to King's point that fighting the Vietnam War was falling predominantly on the poor, and particularly on America's black population.

    Now you look at young recruits and a lot of them are coming from middle America (a friend's daughter enlisted, for example), because there are no jobs and they can't afford college. Or they are immigrants trying to gain citizenship.

    The military has definitely become the job of last resort for poor and/or under-educated young Americans. And our greatest export -- young people to occupy other countries.

    (I know -- I'm feeling quite down today because of the Massachusetts election. I'll snap out of it. These elections and 60 votes etc. are all good reasons to be reading about Madison, though.)

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  9. My book has shipped so should have it early next week.

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  10. The military was the first to be integrated during Truman's time. Even before that, the North enlisted black troops into their army to fight the Civil War. Reading Madison, he was willing back then to grant blacks their freedom if they fought in the states' militias during the War of 1812, but of course Southern militias weren't about to enlist blacks. I guess when it comes to war, it doesn't matter the color of your skin as long as you know how to hold a gun.

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  11. What galled many blacks is that these same "freedoms" weren't extended to the public at large.

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