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Countering Annual Whitewash of His Legacy, Progressives Remember the 'Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Imperialist' Martin Luther King Jr.

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/20/countering-annual-whitewash-his-legacy-progressives-remember-anti-capitalist-anti

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Why use the racially loaded term “whitewash” in an article about looking beyond racial injustice to war and economic violence? Especially the headline. Is it whitewashing when African Americans ignore King’s path of nonviolent confrontation, his inclusion of working class whites in the search for economic justice, or his opposition to war?

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we must remember, that on the eve of his assassination. mr king was giving a speech in favor of striking sanitation workers, whom had been excluded from economic prosperity through socio-cultural disdain against workers in “dirty” jobs.

he was there to support their desire to unionize and participate fully in society, something that sanitation workers, whom were more likely to be ethnic minorities and other marginalized folks were prevented from doing through poverty wages and socio-cultural norms against associating with sanitation workers.

in his speech he drew direct links to the economic exploitation of financialized capitalism and the diminished prospects of marginalized peoples, and the violence of the system that is disguised and hidden from view through multiple layers of middle-management and supposedly neutral criterion that disproportionally affect the marginalized.

our struggle as a people will never be over until the day that the promise of equality of opportunity is truthful for everyone… no matter what aspect of a person someone might take bigoted umbrage against.


Lets also not lose sight of the fact that MLK believed in the right of individuals to own firearms. If the police can’t (or won’t) protect you, a gun may be your last line of defense.

Just remember, so long as King was only advocating for civil rights for blacks, the powers that be in the USA mostly left him to his own devices. But when he began speaking out against the war, against poverty, and for truly equal rights for the African American community, that’s when he, and many others like him, were eliminated.
Just ask the ruling elites. The status quo must be maintained at all costs. It’s always been this way in America. Short of another revolution, it always will be.


No, MLK knew what every other black man in post civil war US history has known all too well. The second amendment only applies to white men.
I’ve never actually looked it up, do you have any links to pro gun comments attributed to MLK?

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Cause it Fits like a Glove

Try reading The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Or explain why Black Lives Matter happened on Obama’s watch

Or why Voting Rights were summarily rolled back on Eric Holder’s watch

Or just read Letter from a Birmingham Jail

It’s still going on and we have a white supremacist in the White House

Imagine if we called it The People’s House instead

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The Establishment well tolerated MLK as long as he was just promoting the civil interest of black people. He was murdered by the state when he stepped on the toes of the MIC with his Beyond Vietnam speech/sermon in April 1967. He was planning to direct mass opposition to a war that was substantially fought by black draftees. John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King …

Vietnam is the common thread of three state murders. The only difference is the state declared a national holiday for murdering MLK.


Democracy Now! Jan. 20 played the whole MLK speech titled “Beyond Vietnam” given on April 4, 1967.
He could have been speaking about what is happening in the year 2020. This country never learns.


Stop playing the victim- you’re not the victim here. I would suggest that the term is used deliberately (and accurately), and if you object to its use, you fail to recognize the reality of racial injustice in your haste to “look beyond” it. Exactly the point of the article is the danger of self-absolution in pursuit of a clear conscience by promoting a sanitized narrative of King’s legacy and ignoring his radical message.


I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware that all comments had to be approved by you. Is it OK if I talk about MLKs belief in Jesus? or is that part of the truth too right-wing for you?

Since we can’t post links, it might be something you want to look up on your own. MLK was anti-violence, not anti-gun. Most people are anti-violence (except maybe the KKK and Antifa). The difference is between depending on someone else to protect you and your family and, when the police can’t (or won’t), just sacrificing them.

Thanks, I have read the book and letter you suggest. And many more. I think you have missed the spirit of the teachings.

I agree the term is used intentionally, but its use is counter to Dr. King’s methods and goals. I’m not asking anyone to “look beyond” anything. Like the bulk of the article, I’m trying to get beyond the image of Dr. King as only concerned about racial justice. To acknowledge his deep, radical vision and efforts. I don’t need absolution from King or anyone. My conscience is clear. He is one of my top handful of heroes and guides from the last hundred years. Like many who have studied Dr. King, I have my favorite parts. And parts I don’t understand or agree with. And those aren’t going to be the same as others who have studied Dr. King.

Perhaps his most radical act was bringing Gandhian non-violence to the USA. Practicing it, preaching it, encoding it. Included in that is seeking to make momentary enemies into friends. Although whitewashing is one of the less offensive, racist terms using “white” these days, I don’t see how it fits with his teachings. But if you want to use it to describe all people’s tendencies to gloss over parts of his legacy, including African Americans, it seems to fit a little better. Like “blacklisting” it can be used in a race-neutral way even though it may trigger some people.

We already had civil rights workers, war resisters, black nationalists, servants of the poor. Perhaps his most radical act was promoting nonviolence. That’s what seems to get glossed over even in the discussions that include economic justice and militarism.

“ King’s notion of nonviolence had six key principles. First, one can resist evil without resorting to violence. Second, nonviolence seeks to win the “friendship and understanding” of the opponent, not to humiliate him (King, Stride , 84). Third, evil itself, not the people committing evil acts, should be opposed. Fourth, those committed to nonviolence must be willing to suffer without retaliation as suffering itself can be redemptive. Fifth, nonviolent resistance avoids “external physical violence” and “internal violence of spirit” as well: “The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him” (King, Stride , 85). The resister should be motivated by love in the sense of the Greek word agape, which means “understanding,” or “redeeming good will for all men” (King, Stride , 86). The sixth principle is that the nonviolent resister must have a “deep faith in the future,” stemming from the conviction that “The universe is on the side of justice” (King, Stride , 88).“

From the King Institute at Stanford.

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Um, no. He got constant death threats and had good reason to fear that the Klan in Alabama targeted him for assassination. In the mid-50’s he kept firearms for self-protection and had armed supporters take turns guarding his home and family. After his house was bombed in 1956 he applied for a concealed carry permit in Alabama but was denied in yet another example of police discrimination against African Americans. He eventually gave up on armed self-defense and more completely embraced nonviolence. He argued with Malcolm X and the Black Panthers regarding use of firearms.


Ya think, just like they did to John and Bobby? Being black is not a cake walk and I can’t possibly apologize for the wrongs done to people of color by whitey but we all suffer when racism is a reason for mistrust. That is what I learned from the man honored today.

An interesting article on the topic: www dot sacbee dot com slash news slash nation-world slash national slash article55187105 dot html

By the end of his life he was becoming quite radicalized. His Beyond Viet Nam Riverside Speech never fails to stir the heart and conscience:


Take a listen



An article that might help.