On April 4 1968 Martin Luther King did not simply stop breathing; he was stopped by a bullet delivered by the hand of the STATE. MLK was murdered, executed, assassinated with the aide of the US government. There are lots of reasons why the many crocodile tear stained tributes in the US press today leave this out; they are complicit and they did not disagree with US capitol’s decision to eliminate him
In December of 1999 in a wrongful death suit filed by Coretta Scott King and family against bar owner Lloyd Jowers, a jury found that “Jowers participated in a conspiracy to do harm to Martin Luther King” and that, “others including governmental agencies [agents of the City of Memphis, State of Tennessee and the Government of the United States] were party to this conspiracy as alleged by the defendant.”
Jowers was sued after coming forward on ABC News in 1993 and admitting that he paid the “real” shooter and that James Earl Ray, who had plead guilty to killing King years before, was indeed a patsy as he claimed. The entire conspiracy is well documented in the book “An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King” by William F. Pepper.
So as a result this is a rather embarrassing day for the US. It is also embarrassing for the activists who despite their accolades reveal their subconscious fear, by failing to acknowledge this very salient fact.
It makes sense because few, of even the activists regardless of their eloquent pronouncements and well- intended tributes, are willing to follow King in paying the ultimate price for what they believe. Few nowadays are willing to “March into hell,” for “the heavenly cause” of justice and peace.
Notice the bourgeoisie Big Business press wrote about the riots that occurred after he was murdered, Bobby Kennedy’s Indianapolis speech, Memphis, MLK’s friends, his last days, but not the fact that he was killed by the STATE!
Even the leading liberal mouthpiece, National Public Radio (NPR) left out the results of the civil suit in an article published this morning, entitled “Despite swirl of Conspiracy Theories Investigators say the MLK case is closed.”
Ironically the so-called investigators were all government employees!
Why are most of the crocodile tears and halfhearted tributes refusing to acknowledge this very important fact? It is because to look this in the eye, is to see something terrifying. It would mean seeing this system as it is; rotten and corrupt and as evil as any the world has ever seen, which will do anything, absolutely anything to maintain its system of exploitation and oppression.
But I suspect they/we know this, which is why it is easier to talk about the problems and bringing light to the problems, rather than organizing folks around what needs to be done.
As we remember the human rights leader it is important to keep in mind that the State doesn’t murder people for simply being pro Black and opposed to the ills the Black community suffers. The State murders people who are not just pro Black, but also pro- poor people, pro-union, pro- human and anti-capitalist.
It murders those who understand that we face primarily a three headed monster of poverty, militarism and racism and ACTIVELY opposes them. For good measure one can add sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and Islamaphobia as a subset. But as King so eloquently pointed out, “these three evils, racism, economic exploitation and militarism are tied together inextricably and we aren’t going to get rid of one, without getting rid of the other.”
Ironically, churches and preachers, supposedly the foremost fighters of evil in the world, will talk about King without denouncing the devil that felled him.
Many of the tributes have also either purposely kept him and his concerns provincial and nationalistic, leaving out his internationalism.
And this is not the day to remember MLK in a narrow way. Ruling classes don’t murder folks for being provincial. He fought for Black people in a way that few people have, without a doubt. But he also fought for Black people on the continent and in the diaspora. He stood with the countries in Africa and Asia, who were freeing themselves from colonialism. He stood with those in South Africa opposing Apartheid and was one of the earliest leaders in the diaspora to denounce their system of legalized racial segregation.
And he stood with poor Black people in the slums and ghettos of the North and of the South and with poor people in general. He initially denounced the riots, but then stood with them every chance he got and eventually pointed out that it was the US government “that was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”
Notice his planned march against poverty was not called the poor Black people’s campaign, but the Poor Peoples campaign as he sought to summon all the countries poor, in a multi-ethnic and multi-racial show of unity.
And just as importantly, he stood for the Brown and Yellow people of Southeast Asia. He denounced the war in Vietnam. It is important to note that Black activists and revolutionaries of that era, including the leadership of SNCC, particularly Kwame Toure and Muhammad Ali spoke out against the war in Vietnam.
And he was murdered while in the midst of helping workers improve their working conditions and their bottom line. He was more than a civil rights fighter; he fought for everyone and everything. He had a vision for a just humanity. And he realized that we weren’t going to build a new world using the Masters tools, so he called for a “revolution of values.”
If we are honest, MLK’s assassination had its desired effect on the Black political imagination, there is palpable fear and thus a hesitancy to fight to change the system, rather than just working on the symptoms of the system.
We should remember what King stood for on this date and more importantly rededicate our lives to the principles for which he stood. But this day should serve also as a reminder of just how determined the rulers of this society are to keep their power and their wealth.
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed,” said MLK who understood that this meant sacrifice.
“The only way we can really achieve freedom is to somehow conquer the fear of death. For if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.… there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they are worth dying for.” MLK.
justice then peace