Forgotten History - Tuesday, February 20, 2001
"Little known facts and overlooked history"
The Other Dr. King
Each year we hear of many well deserved tributes to Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr., who was one of the great Americans
of the 20th century. But if someone looked closely at the
records they would ask, if one only followed the media, did
Dr. King die in 1965 or in 1968? There seems to be a three-
year gap where the efforts of Dr. King are never discussed.
Why don't they ever mention what happened after 1965?
This is because the national media refuses to come to grips
with what Dr. King stood for in his final years. Soon after
the passage of the civil rights bills of 1964 and 1965, Dr.
King began to assert that the just recently passed laws were
meaningless without basic "human rights." Dr. King began to go
in another direction. He said that the right to a job, the
right to afford a decent home were the next stages of the
civil rights movement. He began to talk about a radical
redistribution of "political wealth and economic power."
What Dr. King was trying to do was move beyond the civil
rights movement and into the area of class perspective. He
understood that the majority of Americans below the poverty
line were white. Dr. King spoke out against the wide dis-
parity between the rich and the poor. "True compassion," said
Dr. King. "Is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes
to see an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
He began to question the war in Vietnam and the whole direct-
ion of American foreign policy. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech
at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, a year before he was
murdered, Dr. King described the United States as "the great-
est purveyor of violence in the world today." He said that we
were on the wrong side of the revolutions across the globe. Dr.
King argued that the U.S. was suppressing justified revolts
instead of helping them. King maintained that the West was
investing "huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America,
only to take the profits out with no concern for the social
betterment of the countries.
For this he was denounced by the national press. The Washing-
ton Post said that "King has diminished his usefulness to his
cause, his country, his people." The New York Times called it
"demagogic slander." The liberals, who had started the war in
Vietnam, attacked him as well. They were joined by academics
like John P. Roche of the Americans for Democratic Action who
commented to President Johnson that Dr. King's speech "indi-
cates that King, in desperate search for a constituency, has
thrown in with the commies...The civil rights movement is shot,
broke and disorganized and King who is inordinately ambitious
and quite stupid (a bad combination) is thus looking for a
Black columnist and CIA operative Carl Rowen said Dr. King
was "more interested in embarrassing the United States than
in the plight of either the Negro or the war weary people of
Vietnam." Other Johnson aids said civil disobedience was really
"criminal disobedience" and warned against the upcoming "Poor
Peoples March." The march would assemble "a multiracial army
of the poor" that would descend on Washington and use tactics
of nonviolent civil disobedience until Congress enacted a
"Poor People's" bill of rights. The Readers Digest labeled
it as an "insurrection."
Dr. King was asking for was a massive job program that would
rebuild American cities. He felt the need to confront a
Congress which had displayed its "hostility to the poor." He
said the Congress appropriated "military funds with alacrity
and generosity and poverty funds with miserliness." Unfortun-
ately that sounds as accurate today as in 1968. When people
speak about justice for the poor, they are said to be inviting
class warfare, when missile defense systems are made for no
other reason than to line the pockets of defense contractors,
that is called the public interest.
Maybe that is why they refuse to tell us about the last years
of Dr. King's life. Dr. King died in a labor struggle, fight-
ing so that garbage workers could earn a decent living, rather
than working forty hours a week and still qualify for food
stamps. This is the Dr. King that they never tell us about
in the mass media. Perhaps, that should be of no surprise
considering what little attention they pay to the plight of
millions of Americans and the hatred they have shown to
organized labor throughout the years. It's not that the press
lies, it's just that they never tell the truth.
Sources: Film, The FBI's War On Black America.
Film, The Assassination of Martin Luther King
David J. Garrow, The FBI and Martin Luther King Jr.
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