April 9, 2010

(UPDATE) Honoring Rev. King…

N.J.'s People's Organization for Progress rallies to remember the Actual Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
UPDATE: An interesting reality check arrived via email, it seems that the title of honoring Dr. King must have flipped an automated-switch on the computers at the Build the Dream site. They are raising money for the proposed Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in DC. Now while I have nothing against a National Memorial to Dr. King, the promotional video on their site inadvertently illustrates the very point we made about the comic-book fantasy of "King-the-Dreamer" as opposed the actual historic activist Martin King…
Check out their King-the-Dreamer video and their site here.
Lawrence Hamm, People's Organization for Progress chairman, and POP Financial Secretary Angenetta Robinson place wreath at the largest memorial to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the State of New Jersey.

Although it might seem a bit late to post photos from the People's Organization for Progress' annual memorial on the anniversary of King's April 4 assassination, today is the 42nd anniversary of Dr. King's funeral, attended by hundreds of thousands filling block after block near the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

For a number of years, POP has held a wreath-laying at the Martin Luther King. Jr. monument at the MLK Plaza Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station in Jersey City. Last Sunday was a beautiful day and POP was well received by neighborhood residents, many walking home from church after Easter Sunday services.

POP members and neighborhood residents at Hudson-Bergen MLK Light Rail station

Every January 15th since the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Holiday was signed into law in 1983, Dr. King's legacy becomes the stuff of government-sponsored hallucination. No one is supposed to remember the opposition that even the idea of this holiday faced in Congress. In fact, many of the same politicians (and news media talking-heads) who nowadays candy-coat his legacy into a fantasy of "dreams" and "non-violence," were violent opponents of the national King holiday for nearly twenty years.

But for the past eight years since the present US adventure in Afghanistan and Iraq began, thoughtful commentators (some even in the mainstream media) have taken the April 4th anniversary of Rev. King's murder to remind us that the date of Dr. King's murder falls on the one-year anniversary of his "Time to Break Silence" sermon at Riverside Church where he publicly proclaimed his opposition to the War in Vietnam.

Larry Hamm, Chairman of the People's Organization for Progress, "drops a little history"

But to truly understand the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we must take a deeper, more nuanced view of history. As speakers at the rally pointed out, King's 1968 opposition to US imperialism in Vietnam and his view that the cost of the war kept necessary funds from reaching poor communities, was the end of "universal support" from Black clergy. But as People's Organization for Progress chairman Lawrence Hamm pointed out, the history was even more complicated than that! In fact, the famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in 1963 was not a philosophic essay expounding the tactic of non-violence. Though some observers may allege that today, at the time it was an appeal to clergy of Birmingham (including African-American preachers) who had opposed the Birmingham campaign altogether. "Many Black clergy had asked Dr. King to stay home, not to cause trouble," Larry Hamm told the crowd, "Many who today claim to have 'marched with Martin' were the same preachers who called him a 'trouble-maker' or a 'communist' and asked King to stay out of Birmingham."

POP Vice Chair Larry Adams, a Jersey City resident, speaks

As one speaker pointed out, "Historically the most significant aspect of Dr. King's assassination was the character assassination carried out by supposed friends and supporters after Martin's death, people who turned Rev. King into 'a man with a dream' instead of the people's fighter that he was!"
To view additional photos from last Saturday's memorial click here.

Old billboard in Tennessee purporting to show Martin Luther King at "Communist Training School" (it is actually the Highlander Center for Labor Education, and Mrs. Rosa Parks is there as well).

1 comment:

-Jon L. said...

Rah, I'm so glad that my pictures from last Sunday's street rally were able to complement your analysis. I also wanted to thank you for including the historic photo of the "White Citizens Council" billboard that I mentioned seeing on a family trip through Tennessee while speaking at the Jersey City rally.