Skip to comments.The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV
Posted on 01/16/2012 12:41:11 AM PST by No One Special
It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King's birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader."
The remarkable thing about this annual review of King's life is that several years his last years are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.
What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).
An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn't take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.
Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they're not shown today on TV.
It's because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.
In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter.
But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.
Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power.
"True compassion," King declared, "is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
By 1967, King had also become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 a year to the day before he was murdered King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."
From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King questioned "our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America," and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World, instead of supporting them.
In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries."
You haven't heard the "Beyond Vietnam" speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 and loudly denounced it. Life magazine called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."
In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People's Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights. Reader's Digest warned of an "insurrection."
King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor" appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness."
How familiar that sounds today, more than a quarter-century after King's efforts on behalf of the poor people's mobilization were cut short by an assassin's bullet.
As 1995 gets underway, in this nation of immense wealth, the White House and Congress continue to accept the perpetuation of poverty. And so do most mass media. Perhaps it's no surprise that they tell us little about the last years of Martin Luther King's life.
Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon are syndicated columnists and authors of Adventures in Medialand: Behind the News, Beyond the Pundits (Common Courage Press).
There was a reason the Kennedy administration was investigating MLK, and continued to the next administration.
I remember cartoons on op-ed pages calling him a communist (by implication), op-eds that called him a rabble rouser, he was not well liked.
I KNOW it is very callous, however in this country if someone is assassinated all their flaws and extreme political agenda ideas are candy coated or removed all together.
American freedom is probably on the rocks, but I won't have it said that I died without a fight.
Why do people, even some on FR, say that he was a Republican? I always had a feeling that was a bunch of B.S.
Can anyone confirm or deny that (with verification)?
Amen to confronting the whole charade
No one will touch....look only a few replies
Folks prefer to believe the lies...
Rush...hannity...beck worst of all
No wonder they are all silent on Mittens
Only more nauseating myth is the one over urine drinking little girl loving Ghandi
Finally someone has the courage to speak the truth! I am old enough to remember these facts, and I’m frustrated when I see all this hero worship.
But hey, who are we to question the New Normal anyway??
But now that this sort of classist talk has re-entered the mainstream with the oBummer himself, OWS, the new Acorn, various union thugs, and the like openly stumping for it, what’s still keeping the lamestream from presenting “the full MLK Jr.”?
It can’t be mere shame.
I’m still waiting for “The Nelson Mandela You Don’t See On TV” . . . you know, the hardcore communist terrorist whose legacy is in play in South Africa right now, turning the country into another Zimbabwe with its anti-white reverse-apartheid policies that are turning former breadbaskets into deserts, as well as creating a rape culture where a quarter of women will be violated in that fashion and nothing done about it and a culture of anti-white murder in general . . .
It starts off slow then snowballs.
Nail on the head twice in a thread. :-)
My feelings exactly.
It sure did jesse the jack a favor. Wonder if he still has that bloody shirt.
By the authors’ comments at the end of the (1995) article, it sounds like they’re dissapointed King didn’t get a chance to release his barefoot hoardes.
Seems if he were registered Republican there would be records. I know his father was Republican and many , if not most southern blacks were also due to the legacy of the Civil War. Also his niece claimed he was.
Here is something from his autobiography he wrote on Nixon and Kennedy before that preidential election. He calls Nixon a moral coward:
Nobody knew what was going on back in the olden days. The Marxists were still en-closeted. ;-)
Both of them loudly and vigorously opposed the Vietnam War.
This had a profoundly destructive impact on millions of Conservative whites who respected both these men.
In that time period, a solid majority of Americans supported the Vietnam War as the final line in the sand we would not allow a Communist government to cross.
Although war deaths were many times higher than Iraq and Afghanistan, the anti-war movement was confined to the usual Hard Left colleges and cities.
Then, anti-war and Marxist politics went vividly and shockingly on display during the Black Riots in 1968.
The angry political schism between American Blacks and the Republican Party can be traced directly to this period.
“Dated, perhaps only by the date of publication. Submitted for your perusal, consideration, approval/disapproval and comments. :-)”
Must be duplicated from print. The article dates January 1995 at Fair.org, but the Internet was not popularized until 1996.
I think your analysis is right on the mark. Recall that Ali was a consciencous objector to the draft based on being in the Nation of Islam. Howard Cosell praised him for this stance and he lost his world championship as a result. I wonder when, why and how he got involved with the NOI. Perhaps he was duped?
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