Moyers, Winship: Dr. King's Dream - Still Unfulfilled

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"Forty-two years ago, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated, gunned down in Memphis, Tenn. [...]

We sanctify his memory now, name streets and schools after him, made his birthday a national holiday. But in April 1968, as King walked out on that motel balcony, his reputation was under assault. [...]

A year before, at Riverside Church in New York, he had spoken out -- eloquently -- against the war in Vietnam. King said, 'A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death," a position that angered President Lyndon Johnson, many of King's fellow civil rights leaders and influential newspapers. The Washington Post charged that King had, "diminished his usefulness to his cause, to his country, and to his people.' [...]

With his popularity in decline, an exhausted, stressed and depressed Martin Luther King Jr. turned his attention to economic injustice. He reminded the country that his March on Washington five years earlier had not been for civil rights alone but 'a campaign for jobs and income, because we felt that the economic question was the most crucial that black people and poor people, generally, were confronting.' Now, King was building what he called the Poor People's Campaign to confront nationwide inequalities in jobs, pay and housing. [...]

All these decades later, little has changed when it comes to economic equality. If anything, the recent economic meltdown and recession have made the injustice of poverty even more profound, especially in a society where the top percentile enjoys undreamed of prosperity. [...]

The nonpartisan group United for a Fair Economy has issued a report that features Martin Luther King Jr. on the cover with the title 'State of the Dream 2010: Drained.' King's dream is in jeopardy, the report's authors write, 'The Great Recession has pulled the plug on communities of color, draining jobs and homes at alarming rates while exacerbating persistent inequalities of wealth and income.'

Nor will a recovery ameliorate the crisis. 'A rising tide does not lift all boats,' United for a Fair Economy's report goes on to say, 'because the public policies, economic structures, and unwritten rules of racism form mountains and ridgelines, and hills and valleys that shape our economic landscape. As a result, a rising economic tide fills the rivers and reservoirs of some, while leaving others dry and parched.'

Read the full article by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on Salon.com


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