Friday, April 4, 2008

MLK's last causes

On the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr's death, WaPo looks at the complex legacy of the Rev. - his opposition to the Viet Nam war, and his fight against poverty. He was under pressure from the Black community as they saw him "dilute" his commitment to civil rights, and his White liberal friends were leaving him over Viet Nam and his fight against poverty.

Best passage:
The war buildup had "continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube," King said. "So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

"Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools."

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