Dr. King’s Legacy Lives

Dr. King’s Legacy Lives


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Lo forty-three years later we’re seeing history repeat itself. The legacy of resistance

to evil, war and economic oppression still flickers. The original Tea Party,

meaning the asymmetric, energetic and unorganized group of protestors

who were extremely concerned about the government’s  rising debt, taxes,

the wars and expanding cost of government was a start of activism but they were

subsequently co-oped by the Koch brothers who steered them into the Republican Party.



Books by and about  Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love / The Measure of a Man Why We Can’t Wait

A Testament of Hope  /  A Knock at Midnight   /  The Papers of  Martin Luther King, Jr., 1948-1963


Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story


Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation


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Dr. King’s Legacy Lives

By Junious Ricardo Stanton


The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.—Martin Luther King Jr.


When I first read about the call to occupy Wall Street several months ago I immediately thought about Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign. In case you are too  young to remember, in 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was planning a massive nation wide poor people’s campaign to draw attention to the class warfare raging in the country at that time. He was attempting to organize and galvanize hundreds of thousands of poor and working class people of all colors to amass on Washington D.C.  The goal was to encamp in the nation’s capital to apply pressure on Congress to stop the imperialist wars in Indo-China, focus more attention on the plight of the poor and suffering in this country and redirect governmental resources on their behalf. 

At the same time he was getting the Poor People’s Campaign off the ground, King lent his support to the striking sanitation workers in Memphis Tennessee. These workers were attempting to unionize, gain the respect and recognition of the city administration to negotiate in good faith for fair and decent wages and the right to collective bargaining. To me the call to Occupy Wall Street struck a similar cord and their activism reminded me of King’s earlier efforts. I was pleased to see activism and resistance bloom in the midst of the current political and economic climate.  The Occupy Wall Street movement was a call to direct action. 

Too much emphasis has been placed today on arm chair activism, social networking, writing letters, calling legislators and community service. The time has come for decisive direct action, civil disobedience, strikes and demonstrations to challenge and right the wrongs of this society. Income inequality and corporate intrigue and influence is higher today than at any time in US history since the robber baron era. To their credit the young people behind the Occupy Wall Street movement did not elect to sit passively by and allow this form of fascism to go unchallenged. Just like King challenged racial apartheid and economic injustice these young people are bringing economic apartheid and the class war to the public’s consciousness.

Marin Luther King Jr. was killed because the US government and their corporate puppeteers feared his talk of economic apartheid would further radicalize the masses who were already waking up to how they were being duped, used and ground up by the US military-industrial complex. King was the most prominent and widely recognized clergyman to come out against the Vietnam War. None of the other well known religious leaders of his day, Bishop Sheen, Billy Graham, Norman Vincent Peale publicly uttered a word against the devastation and carnage the US was wrecking in Southeast Asia. King tied the war over there, the huge expenditures and profits being made by US companies to the economic privation in this country. King pointed out the direct correlation between the money spent on foreign wars and the failure of the government to address the poverty, hunger, and oppression here. King’s stance gave a huge boost to the anti-war movement and put the government on the defensive to the point it stepped up its counterinsurgency operations against the civil rights, anti-war and other radical movements.

The US government initiated a reign of dirty tricks, terror and violence against peace demonstrators, civil rights activists, the migrant worker movement, La Raza, Black Power, The American Indian Movement and numerous others. The FBI and CIA waged a vicious war against the American people in a fashion that would have made Adolph Hitler proud. CONINTELPRO and Operation Chaos were just two of the government’s more infamous programs to attack the people. Numerous lives were ruined by the government’s wickedness, both here and over seas. King’s grass roots, direct action movement posed a major threat to the status quo, so the US government killed him. 

Lo forty-three years later we’re seeing history repeat itself. The legacy of resistance to evil, war and economic oppression still flickers. The original Tea Party, meaning the asymmetric, energetic and unorganized group of protestors who were extremely concerned about the government’s  rising debt, taxes, the wars and expanding cost of government was a start of activism but they were subsequently co-oped by the Koch brothers who steered them into the Republican Party. The Occupy Wall Street movement saw this and refused to fall into that same trap. So they wisely kept the movement fluid with no identifiable (targetable)  spokespersons. They also eschewed dialogue with the powers that be. They were merely attempting to raise consciousness about the collusion and corruption between corporations and the government, corporate criminality, the wars and the galloping fascism that is engrossing this country.

If you stop and think about it the original Tea Party activists and the young people in the Occupy Wall Street movements around the country are not that different from what Martin Luther King Jr attempted; only they are doing it on the local level. So in this regard Martin Luther King’s legacy still lives. Alas the government response has been exactly the same, co-option of the Tea Party, first ignoring then using the media to demonize the Occupy Wall Street movement and finally employing violence to squash the movement altogether. In stead of assassinating the leaders (who they could not identify like they did King), they co-opted the Tea Party and then bum rushed the OWS encampments, beating, pepper spraying and arresting them. 

Four decades ago war criminals like Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger went scot free. Today it’s the Wall Street banksters turn to receive a get out of jail free card. The government is hoping the state’s violence will discourage and deter future demonstrations and resistance against USA fascism. Congress just passed and Obama signed a draconian bill allowing indefinite detention without trial of US citizens and ordered the opening and operation of FEMA internment camps. Time will tell if they have succeeded in dousing the fires of resistance. They may have added more fuel to the fire. Private gun sales are at an all time high.

As wrong and unjust as all this appears, rest assured things are not as they seem. King understood the nature of progress and struggle. He once said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. . . . Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” So as we pause to reflect on and honor the real legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., let’s not get duped and side tracked with feel good once a year community service projects. These times demand more than that. Marin Luther King openly challenged the evil of racial apartheid, the wickedness of political oppression, the waste of war, and the immorality of economic injustice on a full time, full steam ahead basis. We can do the same.

Junious Ricardo Stanton was born and raised in Philadelphia Pennsylvania where he attended the public schools and matriculated to Cheyney State College in 1965. He graduated in 1969 with a BA in Liberal Arts in English. From there he went to the University of Pennsylvania and earned a Master’s Degree in City Planning in 1971. He took a position with the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas as a juvenile probation officer and remained there thirty one years. He has been from1991 to present a free lance writer contributing to number African-American publications such as: Renaissance Magazine, About Time Magazine, weekly columnist for Scoop U.S.A., contributor to Philadelphia Business Review now known as the Business Review, Former Acting Editor In Chief- Real News, former contributing writer First World News of Allentown Pa., The Philadelphia New Observer, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, contributing columnist for The Black Suburban Journal. In addition he has been contributing writer for HYPE Information Services, The Black World Today, Afrikan.Net sites, senior writer for The Digital Drum, regular contributor to TheBlackList E-groups and self-syndicate weekly column POSITIVELY BLACK to about 50 African-American newspapers. .

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As King forewarned, “The salvation of the Negro middle-class is ultimately dependent upon the salvation of the Negro masses.” Of course it is time for the Negro middle-class to rise up from its stool of indifference, stop retreating into dreamlands with flights of unreality, and—with compassion—aid the less advantaged; bringing their hearts, minds, and checkbooks to help their less fortunate brothers.—Chaos or Community


The two most dynamic and cohesive liberal forces in the country are the labor movement and the Negro freedom movement. Together we can be architects of democracy in a South now rapidly industrializing. Together we can re-tool the political structure of  the South, sending to Congress steadfast liberals who, joining with those from Northern industrial states, will extend the frontiers of democracy for the whole nation.—Martin Luther King at AFL-CIO


You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiations a better path?” You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the world “tension” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.—Letter from Birmingham Jail

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation’s role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. —

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

Maya Angelou 1993 Bill Clinton Inauguration

On the Pulse of Morning

The Revolutionary MLK—Jared Ball: Martin Luther King Jr. stood for revolutionary transformation; he is used today to support policies that he fought against—In a startling interview, columnist and communications professor Jared Ball discusses how the image of Martin Luther King Jr. is distorted every year to foster compliance with the system King fought against.—


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The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me

The Righteous Performance of Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Jonathan Rieder

“You don’t know me,” Martin Luther King, Jr., once declared to those who criticized his denunciation of the Vietnam War, who wanted to confine him to the ghetto of “black” issues. Now, forty years after being felled by an assassin’s bullet, it is still difficult to take the measure of the man: apostle of peace or angry prophet; sublime exponent of a beloved community or fiery Moses leading his people up from bondage; black preacher or translator of blackness to the white world? This book explores the extraordinary performances through which King played with all of these possibilities, and others too, blending and gliding in and out of idioms and identities. Taking us deep into King’s backstage discussions with colleagues, his preaching to black congregations, his exhortations in mass meetings, and his crossover addresses to whites, Jonathan Rieder tells a powerful story about the tangle of race, talk, and identity in the life of one of America’s greatest moral and political leaders.

A brilliant interpretive endeavor grounded in the sociology of culture, The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me delves into the intricacies of King’s sermons, speeches, storytelling, exhortations, jokes, jeremiads, taunts, repartee, eulogies, confessions, lamentation, and gallows humor, as well as the author’s interviews with members of King’s inner circle. The King who emerges is a distinctively modern figure who, in straddling the boundaries of diverse traditions, ultimately transcended them all. Beyond Vietnam  /



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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—Publishers Weekly

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posted 13 January 2012




Home    Civil Rights: Struggle for Black Power   JR Stanton   Du Bois-Malcolm-King  Chronology   Religion and Politics

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