Tag Archive: economic justice

May 20 2013

Barack Obama, Occupy Wall Street and Martin Luther King’s Mission and Legacy

Barack Obama is the largest governmental obstacle to the continuation and completion of Martin Luther King’s mission.

Bill Moyers had an excellent conversation with James Cone and Taylor Branch about what could be called, “MLK’s unfinished business;” Moyers called it, “James Cone and Taylor Branch on MLK’s Fight for Economic Equality.”  I recommend checking out the whole conversation, which starts out this way:

You may think you know about Martin Luther King, Jr., but there is much about the man and his message we have conveniently forgotten. He was a prophet, like Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah of old, calling kings and plutocrats to account, speaking truth to power.

Yet, he was only 39 when he was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4th, 1968. The March on Washington in ’63 and the March from Selma to Montgomery in ’65 were behind him. So were the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. In the last year of his life, as he moved toward Memphis and fate, he announced what he called the Poor People’s Campaign, a “multi-racial army” that would come to Washington, build an encampment and demand from Congress an “Economic Bill of Rights” for all Americans – black, white, or brown. He had long known that the fight for racial equality could not be separated from the need or economic equity – fairness for all, including working people and the poor. That’s why he was in Memphis, marching with sanitation workers on strike for a living wage when he was killed.

Popular notions of Martin Luther King’s work celebrate his mission as one that was fundamentally about racial justice.  Moyers and his guests point out that this conventional wisdom seriously understates the scope and scale of King’s vision and mission. King’s mission was not only to advance the interests of African-Americans but to demand and implement a culture of social and economic justice.