King would be fighting for workers rights, justice for Oscar Grant, end to U.S. Imperialism

>> Sunday, April 3, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

King was in Memphis, named after the Ancient Egyptian city (true name: Menefer) with striking sanitation workers demanding environmental justice, dignity and respect as working class people.

Declaring, "I AM A MAN," these men--whose fathers and grandfathers lived under the Jim Crow conditions that led to the lynching of Thomas Moss, friend of Ida B. Wells that led her on her anti-lynching crusade, and whose great-grand parents were likely enslaved--stood firmly for justice.

The night before, King gave the famous "I've Been to the Mountain Top" speech.
King's involvement in the 1968 strike, after coming out against America's imperialist Vietnam War, and his speech, are examples of a King that was growing more radical. In fact, at the time of his death, he was sounding more like Malcolm than Malcolm.

In light of this -- and the constant co-opting of King's memory by the same murderous Amerikkkan regime that martyred him -- here are my thoughts on the 43rd anniversary of King's assassination in light of recent events.

Africa Rising: Tunisia, Egypt and Libya
As we see the oppressed people's of the world rising up across the world, we remember King's words: " the human rights revolution, if something isn't done, and in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed."

The uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, both bolstered by youth and mass labor organizing effectively got ride of the heads of U.S.-backed puppet regimes. But the organizing must continue, otherwise, this unjust society will perpetuate itself in a new face.

Libya is more complex. Due to Ghadafy's past support of African revolutionaries, the recent Racism in Europe Conference held weeks before the C.I.A., AFRICOM and France-backed "rebellion", many are reluctant to support the "rebels" who seemed to be immediately armed. Not to mention the racist attacks against migrant African workers. Conversely, many have not forgotten that Ghadafy is an Arab nationalist and atrocities committed against the original people's before the Arab occupation of North Africa.

Oscar Grant, "Oakland Riots" and Sporadic Union Busting in the Bay Area
King continued his speech with his continued commitment to non-violence. The previous demonstration in Memphis had ended violently and the press focused solely on that aspect of the demonstration, in an attempt to discredit laborers and King, the perpetual "outside agitator."

"Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers were on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor..."

If you have been in Oakland since 2009, that scenario may sound familiar. After BART Police thug Johannes Mehserle murdered Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART Station on January 1, 2009, and the BART cover-up began, justice-loving people took to the streets. Media reports called property vandalism "violence" and parroted Oakland Police's line about "outside agitators" destroying Oakland. Media reports exaggerated property damages and regularly sensationalized these events. Whether it was January 7, 2009 (first protest) or January 14 (second major protest), or the July 8 (verdict protest) or November 5 (sentencing protest), major media focused on these acts they called "violence." With one exception -- besides police terrorism on protesters -- I never saw any protesters violently attacking another human being.

In addition to Oscar Grant's murder and the demonization of protesters, the same thing has happened to Bay Area workers. Since 2009, BART workers were under attack. BART and corporate media attacked workers, portraying them as overpaid and ungrateful admist a poor economy. Of course, neither BART of corporate media focused on the grave injustice of the Oakland Airport Connector that would put us young people on the line to pay for their expensive "Star Wars Ski lift."

Then in 2010, after already raising fares and cutting service, AC Transit attacked its largest union. After a bargaining period that was set up to fail (two months for negotiations, really?), AC Transit blamed bus drivers for proposed cuts that would have further crippled the system that was driving towards "bankcruptcy." Hired guns help drive a further wedge amongst any class solidarity between drivers and riders.

The media went along. Election editorials by the Bay Area News Group supported candidates who supported taking gains from unions. Instead of focusing on dumb ass deals like BART's OAC project or AC Transit's Vanhool "relationship," or even the Peralta College's risky bond for health care or failed financial oversight, workers in each of these institutions -- as well as Oakland Unified Teachers, UC Workers, State workers, and others took the brunt.

Just as people are rising up in Wisconsin, people have been rising up -- although in isolation -- in the Bay.

Collective Economic Action
It's also fascinating that most have not heard this King before. He talked about economic cooperatives and boycotting banks and financial institutions. In this era when banks are bailed out while teachers still have ridiculous student loans, a look at the philosophies that brought King to this point is important. Notwithstanding the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it's important to remember the old, "Don't Shop Where You Can't Work" campaigns and such, and need to make similar demands, but on a larger scale -- in particular, I refer to people who bank with institutions who are taking people's land and wealth through foreclosures and predatory practices.

"It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence," King said. It's now either action or extinction.

Actions in support of the working class are taking place April 4, in Oakland at City Hall from noon to 3, and there are plans for work stoppages elsewhere, with the goal of the 2011 General Strike.

People love to speculate what Dr. King would be doing, or what he would say, if he were alive today.

He surely would be organizing for justice.



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Insight into my daily regimen. Obviously of a different specimen. Me, myself & I. So fly. Welcome to the Daily Regiment.

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