Apr 4, 2018

Death of a King & The Poor People’s Campaign





Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 50 years ago today on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was there to support the ongoing Sanitation Workers’ Strike, the impetus of which was the deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Walker, who were crushed by a defective garbage barrel on the back of an antiquated truck. Furthermore, Black workers were paid less than their White peers and were generally subjected to hazardous working conditions, similar to what caused the untimely demise of both Mr. Cole and Mr. Walker.


While Dr. King is best known as the face of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950's and 1960's, a facet of his legacy does not get a great deal of publicity is the fact that he was an extremely unpopular figure in America – a Gallup poll taken in 1967 showed that of those that participated in the survey, 63% held a negative view of him. At this juncture in his life, he had shifted his focus to becoming an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and kicked off a new initiative termed the Poor People’s Campaign.


The Poor People’s Campaign was a vehicle through which Dr. King sought to shed light on human rights concerns in America – not only for Black people but for all people with the goal of the diminishment and ultimate eradication of crushing poverty and economic inequality. It is my view that his high-profile stance against the War in conjunction with his efforts to bring a multicultural coalition to bear is ultimately what cost him his life.


Speaking from a present day perspective and the polarized society in which we currently reside, I firmly believe that there is more that unites us vis-à-vis things that cause division. While we have serious issues that pervade the very fabric of the country – I think that at the root, we all desire the same things for ourselves and our loved ones. We want access to equal opportunities (economic and otherwise), safe neighborhoods and schools for our children and the ability to be judged on the merits of our character (or lack thereof) as individuals. I long for the day when a movement will occur that is reflective of a true multicultural cross-section that will drive progress – I’ve taken notice of a burgeoning effort by the brave young people that comprise Generation Z. Time will tell if they are the group that will ultimately pick up the baton from Dr. King.


Ray Wiley, Blogger

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  • T-Hanes
    Nov 8, 2017

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  • T-Hanes
    Oct 19, 2017

    "Each time we learn how to play the game, the rules change.” #Thanes When I look deep into my Family Tree, there is a lot of triumph, pain, elation and dysfunction. As I further dissect the Bloodline that created my existence, I truly understand obstacles and challenges we faced leading up to the present moment. I see the complexity and conditions left by Slavery, Black Codes, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Housing Discrimination, Corporate Racism and of course the 80’s Drug Laws. I am a product of American History. My Family is a product of American History and soldiers in a War of Inequality that assisted in creating “Generational Curses.” There are always casualties in conflicts. Family members that came before us were forced to be on the Front Lines of oppression. Sacrifices had to be made for us to be in the professional positions many of us are fortunate to be in at this point and time in history. Unfortunately, some conditions we endured as a race still haunt us. I call them “Generational Curses” because our culture was poisoned by racism and hate, which led to a matrix of suffering. Throughout the years The Black Family and Community has been crippled yet we still manage to achieve. We learn to achieve in spite of the hand that have been dealt. Each time we learn how to play the game, the rules change. America is like a game of Chess. You have to know how to adjust. In life we have to make changes or get lost in the Tornado of American Politics. You have to learn the game. You have to play the game. There is power in unity and this starts within your immediate Family, Home and then Community. A weak community has weak family structures outside of something obvious like Poverty. Starting within your own Family and pushing progressive thinking is a challenge within itself. You will have to break some “Generational Curses” and by doing so, there will be Family Members who will be offended. We have Families with various dysfunctions and the brave soldiers will have to be strong enough to break mentalities, behaviors and a way of life that has been accepted as normal over the years. I believe it’s safe to say that many of our Families are riddled with Alcoholism, Drugs and other Addictions. We also have situations where our children are sexually abused by a family member and people stay quiet about these criminal acts. How many black children hold this pain internally until adulthood? The answer is plenty according to research. Yes, all races face these realities but this post is about our Family. We have to address the "bad apples" in our Families. At any rate, we also suffer from bad financial management. As we start to work towards a cure for “Generational Curses”, you will have to confront love ones. An example is Life Insurance and the serious issue that this has been for generations in the black community. There is nothing more embarrassing than seeing a Go Fund Me to cover Funeral expenses. We are better than this Black People. I honestly believe every working adult in the Black Family should have Life Insurance, Retirement, and an Investment Portfolio even if you can only afford a few dollars per month. We have to speak out against our shortcomings. As I conclude this collection of thoughts, I would be negligent if I didn’t acknowledge how amazing a lot of our families are in the grand scheme of things. The Black Family has been in a Civil War against The United States Government for hundreds of years. This War created “Generational Curses” but it’s up to us to educate our Family, address and face dysfunctions and work through them. It is our responsibility at this point. We can’t assume Democrats, Republicans or anyone for that matter is going to truly put us in a position to obtain power, economic independence and a stronger Family bond. At the end of the day, we owe our ancestors who died on the front lines for us to do better. Our room and margin for error is slim to none. We have to start using our Family Reunions as Workshops to discuss Business Development, Financial Literacy, Credit Advisory and mentoring the youth so unnecessary cycles can be broken. We are the soldiers of America and the fight continues. We must remember that charity starts at home. PEACE Photo: The Library of Congress
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