Americans will observe a national holiday Monday in honor of the birth and life of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Junior. Through non-violence means, King fought for the freedom, equality, and justice of not just blacks, but all races. He was also anti-war. King was assassinated in 1968 while he was in Memphis to support sanitation workers who were on strike.
Civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson was one of those who were with Martin Luther King, Junior when he was assassinated. Jackson reflected on the question what would King say about the state of black America and the world if he were alive today.
“Doctor King called us to action with courage. He felt that what was good for black America was good for everybody, and that was his agenda. For example, his last effort was a personal campaign. He’s been in the deep South, whites, blacks, Latinos and Native Americans. He felt that every American must have a job or income or have an education. And so he would use the moral authority of blacks to mobilize the country, secondly, to end the war in Iraq. I was with him on his last birthday. He focused on mobilizing a mass action in Washington to end poverty and to end the war in Vietnam,” Jackson said.
Reverend Jackson said King’s dream is still alive, and that this year’s commemoration should be one of direct action.
“This should be a week of direct action. Voter registration. About 10 million blacks may not have registered. Voter restoration. Those who served their time in prison should have their right to vote restored. A focus on a new formula for funding public education, and end the war in Iraq and use those monies to reinvest in America and put America back to work,” Jackson said.
Reverend Jackson said if King were alive today, he would take the lead in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to end the wars in Darfur and Somalia.
“To be sure, the HIV/AIDS is a threat to the human race, so much of it in Africa. He would be finding the necessary resources and scientific technology and medicines for Africa and the rest of the world. Clearly the genocide in Darfur, the war in Somalia, he would speak out urging all involved to use their collective strength to end those wars. He saw no future in wars. There are no winnable wars. At the end of the day, people must learn to live together and find reconciliation and co-existence over co-annihilation,” Jackson said.
Jackson said King’s dream of an America where all are treated equally irrespective of color or religion or economic status is alive.
“His dream is alive and beginning to unfold in a nation where you can have access to education and health care and job development. That’s part of the dream. On the other hand, too few people have so much. The excess and wealth, he would cry against that. He’ll be fighting for employment as he was when he was killed. He’ll be fighting for comprehensive health care to help Americans based on need not based on money. He’ll be urging young people to rebel against the war in Iraq, and be that we will a massive march on Washington on January 27 saying don’t send more troops, no money no death. Let’s choose another way,” Jackson said.
Reverend Jackson said black America has made progress in many areas since the death of Martin Luther King, Junior, as seeing in the election of more African Americans.
“There are now mayors of cities; there are 43 in the Congress and the U.S. Senate. There are now judges and a university president. The good news is he was a seed sower, and now many of his seeds are sprouting into position of authority all around the nation and the world,” Jackson said.