Martin Luther King Jr. day has almost ended here in Amsterdam. Not that you hear anything about it on the streets, since it’s not a holiday, but I did manage to ride by Martin Luther King Park today. (nevermind that one has nothing to do with the other, its good enough for me today!) MLK Jr. day is always a wierd one… because of the very neutered image of the man and his work that you hear about from political leaders, mainstream media, and even many school teachers.
Now I certainly had some great teachers in high school, many of whom taught me to be critical about the bullshit society serves me on a platter. But when I think back to what I was taught about Dr. King, it was a white-washed, disneyfied, feel-good story… devoid of the details of all the goals that still have not been accomplished, and most importantly, of what the great man had been working on at the time of his death: The Poor People’s Campaign.
You don’t hear about it cause it scares the shit out of the powerful in society that want to keep things more or less where they are. That reap the benefits of the incomprehensible gap between the rich and the poor, and more importantly, the terrible conditions so manly countless poor people endure day after day. He wanted congress to enact a “Poor People’s Bill of Rights,” it was to be the largest and most widespread campaign ever undertaken by a movement. Yet you never hear much about that in the clean and pure story of MLK as an American hero. If you heard about that children might grow up demanding to know what happened to that campaign and why isn’t there such a movement. And there are few politicians who could afford such a change of political winds.
And of course just to further re-enforce how scared the government was of MLK and his goals, you can try and gain access to the over 16,000 pages of surveillance and investigation the FBI has on him. Only 201 available online, clearly they’re still hiding most of the pages, and probably still very scared at the idea that people may rise up and demand economic justice. But nevermind that concept, it is a more useful tool to those who profit and thrive on inequality if it simply remains a dream.