Honor Dr. King by taking action
Discussion list for COMM-ORG
colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Mon Jan 21 11:09:16 CST 2008
[ed: some thoughts on this holiday. A bit more from me below.]
From: Peter Dreier <dreier at oxy.edu>
On his TV show Friday night, Bill Moyers included a brief (7 minute)
segment on the relationship of President Johnson and Martin Luther King
(and more broadly, the civil rights movement) that was eloquent,
inspiring, and mesmerizing. It is available on YouTube and I encourage
you to view it and spread the word to others.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFlXpoA-MQY) It really cuts through a
lot of the recent tempest about the respective roles of, and credit due
to, MLK and LBJ around civil rights legislation, honors the memory of
Dr. King, puts LBJ's efforts in proper perspective, and addresses the
broader theme of the importance of having both "outside agitators" and
inside deal-makers to win progressive legislation.
Obviously, the best way to honor Dr. King's memory is to take action to
promote social justice. Filmmaker Robert Greenwald (who produced the
brilliant "Iraq for Sale" and "Wal-Mart" documentaries) has produced yet
another short documentary as part of a campaign to get the Presidential
candidates to support higher taxes on the super-rich. Watch the video
(http://warongreed.org/dreams.php?utm_source=rgemail) and then help by
signing the petition to presidential candidates demanding they pledge to
close the loopholes and tax the tax dodgers. Buyout billionaires are a
menace to our economy. People are hurting, badly, and we must take
beginning steps to bring the issue of corporate greed and economic
equality to the nation's attention. As Greenwald says, we all know Dr.
King because of his historic impact on civil rights, but many don't
realize that later in life he fought just as passionately for the rights
of workers and against the entrenched institutions of injustice :
"Equality means dignity. And dignity demands a job and a paycheck that
lasts through the week." The War on Greed is exactly this kind of fight.
The livelihoods of families have been directly attacked by the actions
of buyout billionaires like Henry Kravis putting Wall Street's special
interests ahead of his 800,000 employees... and pocketing $51,000 an
hour in the process.
[ed: I also remain concerned about the characterization of this
holiday. We continually hear the disembodied message of "nonviolence,"
when King's phrase was "nonviolent direct action." At my university,
students are asked to contribute a "day of service" today. I can't help
but think that it would be much more appropriate to ask for, and model,
a "day of action." The fact that we have allowed King's message to be
transformed from action into service shows the disabling of the idea of
civic engagement in mass culture and higher education.]
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