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'Reclaim MLK' Protesters Kick Sanitized King Ideology to the Curb

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: politics, history, race, activism, Dr. Martin Luther King, capitalism, socialism, inequality, privilege )

- 1276 days ago -
Activists across the United States are fed up with only hearing the 'I Have a Dream' version of the slain civil rights leader. Article from


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fly bird (26)
Monday January 18, 2016, 8:39 pm
"Activists across the United States are fed up with only hearing the ‘I Have a Dream’ version of the slain civil rights leader."

Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.


Education activists have long challenged the dull, one-dimensional, commercialized version of King sometimes taught in schools—the one where kids color photocopied images of the assassinated civil rights activist and hear a small snippet of his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. Now, through the “Reclaim MLK” campaign, activists are reminding Americans that King had more than a dream that his children “will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

In more than 20 cities over the weekend, Reclaim MLK supporters held protests and demonstrations focused on the modern fight for racial and economic justice. Several more protests were planned for Monday, including a walkout by low-wage workers at nine of the nation’s airports.

RELATED: See Why ‘Black Lives Matter’ Isn’t Just About Black People

The hashtag #ReclaimMLK also trended on Twitter on Monday, with people posting video and pictures of themselves raising the call for justice. In Boston, activists braved below-freezing temperatures to stage a "funeral procession for racism, poverty, imperialism, [and] gentrification,” complete with a black coffin.

Video -

Folks are also satirizing the focus on the “I Have a Dream” speech.

Others are posting less well-known quotes and speeches from King in which he addressed controversial topics such as the Vietnam War and capitalism.

In a op-ed published on MSNBC on Monday, human rights advocate Martin Luther King III, who has previously spoken out against the idolization of his father, explained the need to reclaim the holiday as a day of dissident activism, particularly around police brutality.

“The current culture of police violence is symptomatic of a deeper malaise of racial and economic injustice that black and brown people face every day. In the history of our country, we have had several opportunities to address racial injustice, but we have often been offered piecemeal, limited and compromised solutions,” wrote King III. “So on this day, we call on the political leaders from the president on down to seize the moment, as President Johnson did following Selma, to lead on a bold national strategy to address contemporary structural racism in the United States once and for all.”

King III also explicitly connected his father’s work with the Black Lives Matter movement. “Dr. King has left a legacy that says that when we say that black lives matter, we are indeed saying all lives matter. Just like in Memphis when black sanitation workers carried signs saying ‘I am a man,’ they were really saying ‘I am a human being’ who has rights that should be respected like everyone else,” he wrote.

Reclaim MLK was started in 2015 by Ferguson Action, a nonprofit launched in Ferguson, Missouri, after the November 2014 non-indictment of police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In the aftermath of the killing of the Charleston Nine in June and the December non-indictment of the officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Reclaim MLK activists have expanded the campaign’s efforts around several goals.

“Simply put: let’s end the cash cow for jails that cage us, police that kill us, and the weapons that empower them, and [invest in] more resources for our education, health, and strong communities,” the activists wrote.
With racially and economically segregated schools the norm in the U.S., and with black kids disenfranchised academically and suspended six times more often, the activists also demanded that communities of color have control of their education systems. “We demand the ability to decide how our schools run or the way our cities spend money. As we see schools closing in Black communities across the country, while they push us out to make room for wealthy, white residents, our voices matter in these important decisions,” they wrote.

RELATED: One Big City’s Black Artists Fight Back Against Gentrification

Indeed, Martin Luther King III closed his op-ed by asking people to reclaim his father’s “legacy with calls that go beyond volunteerism or nostalgia for powerful speeches. Let’s reclaim his legacy with a firm commitment to respect and protect human rights for everyone.”

JL A (281)
Monday January 18, 2016, 9:00 pm
Thanks for sharing this, the most important perspective of all, on this day reminding us what this day is supposed to be about even if it isn't comfortable or our preference, for those of s not living the reality this generation's MLK paints for us that if we are truly believers in equality we will accept as the voice of those oppressed on what is actually needed.

Past Member (0)
Monday January 18, 2016, 9:42 pm

Rose Becke (141)
Tuesday January 19, 2016, 1:30 am
His legacy must live on

Animae C (508)
Tuesday January 19, 2016, 3:18 am
Thank you for taking a stand against racial injustice!
6,530 supporters.

Thanx Joanne

Ted W (127)
Tuesday January 19, 2016, 1:18 pm
Many thanks for sharing, Joanne! His original words will live on forever in the hearts and minds of the populace!

Roger G (148)
Tuesday January 19, 2016, 3:44 pm
noted, thanks

Freya H (344)
Tuesday January 19, 2016, 4:18 pm
We plaster MLK's image all over the place, we name streets after him - but these are empty gestures when we do not understand him or his message, when we do nothing to bring about the world that he envisioned.

Dt Nc (0)
Tuesday January 19, 2016, 11:34 pm

Lona Goudswaard (66)
Wednesday January 20, 2016, 7:51 am
The establishment has claimed Martin Luther King a long time ago and turned him into a rather meaningless but salable, hollow version of himself. In their hands he has become the symbol of racial equality, of something that never happened, but they'd like to take credit for. The Reclaim MLK movement is absolutely right in reclaiming him and turning him back into the man he was: an inspiring fighter for equality on all levels. Or as the movement puts it: “[] let’s end the cash cow for jails that cage us, police that kill us, and the weapons that empower them, and [invest in] more resources for our education, health, and strong communities," Because we're a long way off from the world he dreamed about and his visions and words can still guide us there.

Sheryl G (359)
Wednesday January 20, 2016, 9:39 am
Thank you for taking a stand against racial injustice!

Most certainly it would be sanitized. After all he was killed for speaking out against the very things that have made the 1% rich beyond measure.

Use the labor of millions and pay them as cheaply as possible so that the majority of the profit goes to the top. Keep the Industrial War Machine going as that is also a money maker for those making the weapons but also the oil industry loves it when those jets take off, tanks roll along and those ships move about.

If an excess of labor throw them in prison and make money off of warehousing human beings. The nosiest ones like Albert Woodfox and the other former Black Panthers, shut them up in a box and send a strong signal to the minority, don't stand up for your rights or this too can happen to you......and Leonard Peltier is another one who will remain behind bars despite the injustice......he is the Native American "example" that the 1% set out there.


And if you think that white privilege is going to continue to protect you, it never has when one is poor, and now more and more of the former white middle class are being used today as well. Don't like the fracking well in your backyard, tough too bad, you worked for 40 years for that pension, sorry the company is now bankrupt and it's gone or you get half of what you thought you'd get, the rug is pulled out, lost your job the home, gee too bad, we won't even wait for your children to earn that.......we'll put them in debt for trying to do better and getting an education.......they'll pay it off just in time to retire.....but please die quickly the 1% do not want you to collect Social Security and good luck saving for your retirement.

Angelika R (143)
Wednesday January 20, 2016, 4:17 pm
LIVE the dream! Reclaim MLK is the way to do that. Brilliant, thanks Joanne!

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Wednesday January 20, 2016, 4:40 pm
[The GREAT MAJORITY of Millennials according to Polls FOR SEVERAL YEARS, have a FAVORABLE view of Socialism. The vicious Cold War Mentality is over!]
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