April 4, 2008

Words of Truth are Words of Power

Amy Goodman's article reminds us of our interconnected needs and strengths, that the struggle for dignity and a decent life is a struggle we all share and that can be achieved when we learn to identify the forces that seek to separate us.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Posted on Apr 2, 2008
By Amy Goodman
It has been 40 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., while standing on the balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel. King was there to support striking sanitation workers, African-American men who endured horrible working conditions for poverty wages. While King’s staff was opposed to him going, as they were scrambling to organize King’s new initiative, the Poor People’s Campaign, King himself knew that the sanitation workers were at the front lines of fighting poverty.
I went to Memphis on Dr. King’s birthday. There I interviewed Taylor Rogers, one of the striking sanitation workers who marched with King. He told me:
“Back in 1968, 1,300 sanitation workers—we were tired of being mistreated, overworked and underpaid. We decided that we were just going to stand up and be men and do something about our condition. And that’s what we did. We stood up, and we told [Mayor] Henry Loeb in the city of Memphis that ‘I am a man.’ ”
While he was organizing against poverty, King also came out forcefully against the Vietnam War, alienating his erstwhile ally, President Lyndon Johnson. Exactly one year before his assassination, on April 4, 1967, King gave his “Beyond Vietnam” speech at Riverside Church in New York City. He said: “A few years ago, there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.” [my bold]
Time magazine called the speech “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.” The Washington Post declared that King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.” [...]
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 650 stations in North America.
The media attack on Dr. King is being repeated in the attacks on Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The truth is frightening, but ignoring it is much worse because it allows evil to succeed. Learn the lessons of the past to sustain our struggle into the future!

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