Sanitizing Martin Luther King Day
(KPLR) – In Wednesday’s Jacology, Charles Jaco looks at sanitizing Martin Luther King.
Martin Luther King day gives us another great chance to sanitize the memory of a man who was a tireless crusader for social justice and a royal pain in the behind to the established order. We’ve made him into a toothless grandfather who dreamed about black and white kids playing together. He was actually a fierce critic of capitalism, writing to his wife that, quote “I’m far more socialistic than capitalistic in outlook and giving a major 1967 speech which blasted capitalism as the source of all the troubles facing America”.
But King was neither a socialist nor a communist; because he said both systems ignored the spiritual, humanistic dimensions necessary to a full life. But he was an enemy of profiteering corporations. Before he died, he was planning to lead a poor people’s march on D.C. to shut down the U.S. Capitol, and demand jobs for poor Americans. He was a strident critic of the pentagon and American foreign policy, ripping the Vietnam war and saying that, quote “The United States is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”.
All of that, and his mobilization of black people, made him a hated figure in these parts. White supremacists from south St. Louis hatched a plan to murder King and pay a big reward to anyone who did it. The House Assassinations Committee concluded that there had been a plot to kill King, and that it’s epicenter was St. Louis. James Earl Ray, said the committee broke out of the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City to collect that reward. Racist working class whites, the pentagon, American law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and wealthy Americans, all hated King.
So let’s remember him the right way. He was not some dreamer preaching flowers and sunshine. He was a deeply committed, radical Christian, committed to a gospel of social justice and liberation theology. Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior was a major threat to the established order in this country. And he was killed for it.
I’m Charles Jaco and that’s Jacology.