Good morning, my readers. As you know, today is Martin Luther King Jr Day. In our community, it is a day of reflection on the causes that he championed. Partially due to this day being in January, it is often a time where we measure how far we have, or haven’t come as a nation. On April 4th, 2018, it will mark exactly 50 years since King was assassinated.
In the past half century, things have changed, but the major issues faced by the United States and the world in general have not subsided. There is no march of history, with material conditions improving with every passing year. The contradictions are arguably sharper, where we can see headlines about individuals who amass fortunes of 100 billion dollars and images of tent cities on the West coast moments from one another.
While Dr. King is conceptualized as a civil rights leader and reformer, he was also against economic inequality. In his address to Riverside Church in 1967, he spoke of the need for the United States to have a “radical revolution of values” King continued, saying “A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily upon the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation.” Considering the times that we find ourselves in now, this message is still highly relevant 51 years later.
We find ourselves in an era where greed is apparently good again, and open class warfare against people who are already struggling enough is conducted through tax policies. At the same time, the Black community has to contend with differing models of leadership, and the public spats that can and do break out over a difference of opinion. Executive producer John Marshall Jones use films like The Last Revolutionary to tackle the question of what the term means, while boycotts of clothing stores that choose to traffic in anti Black sentiments harken back to campaigns of yesteryear.
All of these matters and more, must be addressed by a shift away from what got us here. King’s call for a revolution of values rings just as true in the early 21st century as it did in the 20th century. There is much work left to do.
Editor’s note: shout out to publicist Valerie Denise Jones for being one of the contemporary voices shining light on issues that affect the community.