Dr. Martin Luther King once said "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others." Those words maybe just as true today as they were when he spoke them.
The challenge of questioning every man, is not becoming morally corrupt yourself. Journalist and talk show hosts face that ambiguous threat with every breath. The words of Dr. King inspire us all, they make us pause and remember. To recall that we should not war with our brothers. Judge those that are different, but to embrace everyone for who they are.
The WBOB personalities took a few moments to reflect on the civil rights leader. The following is their personal thoughts.
In Birmingham Jail in 1963, while under arrest for a non-violent demonstration, Martin Luther King met eight white priests who had recently published the letter ‘A Call for unity’. While the priests did concede the existence of social injustice, they expressed a belief that the battle against segregation should be fought in the courts, not in the streets. Martin Luther’s reply was that without direct and powerful efforts such as the ones he undertook, civil rights would never be achieved. He argued that civil disobedience is justified not only to deal with an unjust law, but that "everyone has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." The letter includes the famous quote "An injustice wherever it is, is a threat to justice everywhere" he also repeats the words of Thurgood Marshall: "A justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
Until the end of his life, Martin Luther King remained against radicalization and violence such as advocated by the Black Power Movement and stresses that "the riots do nothing" and considering this method largely ineffective.
In his doctrine of non-violence Luther writes: "If we say that power is the ability to change or the ability to achieve its objectives, then this is not the power to engage in an act that does not do this." "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a downward spiral, causing the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of weakening evil, it multiplies. Using violence, you can kill the liar, but you cannot kill the lie, nor establish the truth. Using violence, you can kill the hate, but you cannot kill hatred. There hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night without stars. Darkness cannot drive away the darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive hate: only love can do that. "
Non-violence is not only the right thing to do; it is a necessity for any movement looking for any real political gains. - Tony Jones 990WBOB Legacy
My thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. are that I've always found it telling that he wasn't targeted for assassination (if not only finally successfully assassinated), until AFTER he refocused his message from one of race inequality to one of class inequality. When he was a southern black preacher riling up other (largely) southern blacks, he was seemingly viewed as much less of a threat to the status quo. However, once he expanded his message beyond the borders of black vs. white to one of rich vs. poor, he became a socio/political liability. A similar case can be made for the subsequent assassination of Malcolm X.
By way of evidence, I offer these two quotes from MLK given in interviews two years apart; the latter of which occurring about a month before his murder.
In an Ebony Magazine article in 1966, King framed his stance and actions in these terms:
"In violent warfare, one must be prepared to face ruthlessly the fact that there will be casualties by the thousands. ...Anyone leading a violent conflict must be willing to make a similar assessment regarding the possible casualties to a minority population confronting a well-armed, wealthy majority with a fanatical right wing that is capable of exterminating the entire black population and which would not hesitate such an attempt if the survival of white Western materialism were at stake."King's point of reference here is as clear as it is limited in scope. The quote reveals that he viewed the matter of white on black oppression exclusively through the lens of race; a minority of blacks struggling, peacefully or otherwise, against the majority rule and disproportionate share of power held by whites.
Fast forward to February 4, 1968, when King gave a sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, in which he said:
"I always try to do a little converting when I'm in jail. And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens all enjoyed coming around to the cell to talk about the race problem...And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, now, 'You know what? You ought to be marching with us. You're just as poor as Negroes.' And I said, 'You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor. Because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you're so poor you can't send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march.' Now that's a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position--where through blindness and prejudice, he is forced to support his oppressors, and the only thing he has going for him is the false sense that he is superior because his skin is white."
Clearly, in the intervening years between those two quotes, King had gained a new perspective. His position evolved to an understanding that class inequality was as much a factor in American injustice as systemic racial oppression. Note that he even was referred to poor whites as "those brothers." This is a major sea change from his earlier assumption that all whites were seemingly prepared to exterminate "the entire black population" if "white Western materialism" was at stake. Moreover, we see him, potentially, signalling a shift in his outreach to begin a campaign of inclusion among poor whites to affect change along racial AND financial lines. -Mike Liberty 13 Folds Radio