Black Lives Matter activists aim to ‘reclaim’ MLK as a radical


The civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. famous equality pursued by means of peaceful protest, but many of the 21st century, activists have said that they want to “reclaim” him under a different picture: as a powerful “radical.”


The Chicago branch of Black Life From pushing the #ReclaimMLK hashtag at Twitter, claims to be Martin Luther King Day would allow activists “go about the real radical King that they do not want you to know about!”

“We do the King a disservice if we try to tell a flat story the other cheek”, said the 31-year-old Charlene Carruthers, the national director of the Black Youth Project 100 in Chicago. “It was never just.”


King’s niece, the activist, writer and Fox News contributor Alveda King, said protesters should not press his civil disobedience successes in the background. “Let’s discuss racism from a peace with justice perspective,” she tweeted ahead of Martin Luther King Day.

Younger black activists say that they prefer to stay in the forefront, more powerful King, the Nobel prize-winning pacifist who preached love over hate while leading non-violent marches in the segregated South. They say they appreciate how the sense of urgency exhibited in the King’s demand for equality in the years just before his 1968 assassination, is in accordance with the Black Life Out a battle cry.

“There is a Martin Luther King, that is important to the resistance movement that we don’t hear about,” Abdul Aliy-Muhammad, the 33-year-old co-founder of the Black and Brown Workers ‘ Collective in Philadelphia, told The Associated Press. “We always hear about love and forgiveness. … There was also a King, that was radical.”

When Carruthers sees it, “agitation” was the core of the work of the King. “Their agitation shows other than how our agitation to see today. However, I do think that King’s work and the work that we do, are part of the larger tradition of black radical resistance.”

Several protests throughout the country, many of which focused on the actions of the police led to riots. King’s response to such riots in 1967: “Returning violence for violence multiply violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”

Fifty years ago this month, King retreated to the Caribbean with his wife, Coretta, and a couple of friends with the writing of his last book, “Where Do We Go From here: Chaos or Community?” In the book, published in June 1967, King called for racial equality for black Americans through the wholesale embrace of social and economic reforms.

During the promotion tour, the King spoke out against the War in Vietnam and the criticism of AMERICAN leaders, so that the slum conditions to persist in the cities. “Everyone is concerned about the long hot summer with its threat of riots. We had a long, cold winter when little was done about the conditions in those riots,” King said, in June 1967.

King fought to the end of public segregation and pushed for the right to vote. But he also advocated a living wage and working to close the employment gap for blacks and spoke out against the discrimination in the police — to those riots was a common response. The king responded to the Feb. 29, 1968, the release of the report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission, by noting that the proposed solutions “are made for almost to the smallest detail and be ignored, almost to the last detail.”

It is a familiar environment for many in the Black Lives Matter movement that see their efforts in cities such as Ferguson, Missouri; Chicago, Baltimore and Cleveland on a continuum that goes back to the King.

They identify with the fact that the King was only 26 when he was submerged in a leading role in 1955 in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. When he died at 39 in 1968, before he could start with his Poor People Campaign, the King was still much younger than the civil rights establishment figures such as A. Philip Randolph and Adam Clayton Powell.

Remembering the King as a community organizer, placing his motion in addition to contemporary activism, said Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives.

“He was really focused on the poor black people,” Cullors, 33, said. “Let’s not forget the King who was invested in the change of the country that he loved so much, who called elected officials, who are still in danger of black people.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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