As Trump's Approval Plunges Channel Dr. King's Lessons To Progressive Movement

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[Future Hope Column]

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, in his from Beyond Vietnam speech, on April 4th, 1967 said “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism. . .”

I’m always personally touched when the King birthday holiday in January comes around. It was King’s assassination on April 4th, 1968 that moved me from concern about war and injustice to activism against them. On the day following it, I composed and posted a petition to Congress that was signed by about half of the students at the college I was attending, Grinnell College in Iowa, before I sent it off to Washington, D.C. I’ve been active ever since on a wide range of issues.

King was a political genius. He was someone who combined a passion for justice and an activist approach with a profound appreciation for what is sometimes called “mass politics.” On August 13, 1967, on NBC’s Meet the Press, he called for “direct action and powerful action programs” to challenge racial and economic injustice and the war in Vietnam. He was about concretely effecting change, and he knew in his bones that change of substance only happens when large numbers of grassroots people are organized into a powerful mass movement that can appeal to the conscience and the best within others while exerting political and/or economic power on those in positions of power.

Today, indeed, we truly need to “recapture the revolutionary spirit” to take on the forces of evil, personified most clearly by Trump, whose actions are responsible for massive, growing wealth inequality and poverty and who will literally burn up the planet if not stopped. This incoming President, who lost the popular vote by 3 million and whose latest approval rate, according to a Quinnipiac poll, is at a dismal 37%, can be and must be massively resisted with visible action.

Leonard Peltier is another person to draw strength from. Despite 41 years in federal prison for a crime the government has admitted in open court it cannot prove he committed, his spirit remains strong. Here is what he wrote on his 71st birthday:

“I was around 7 or 8 years old when I heard the old People talking about taking care of Mother Earth. But for me anyway, as with all young People, I did not really understand what they were trying to tell us. But I see today the traditionalists were correct and AIM People were right when we took it up as a rallying cry to the world. Still, when we spoke out against the destruction of Mother Earth, we were called a bunch of nuts. Well, today, it is called climate change, and there are now millions of us crying out against the destruction of our Mother Earth. Amazing, huh? Thankfully I have lived this long and can see we just might win this war. I know it’s not over – far from it – but the world is waking up and talking about it now. So, it can be won in our lifetime.”

Leonard Peltier must be given executive clemency by Obama before he leaves office. That is why I am on day 12 of what will be, if necessary, an 18 day fast, to underline the importance of people going to www.whitehouse.gov/contact and urging him to do so RIGHT NOW.

As I write we are about to enter a full 8 days of action in DC and around the country and even other parts of the world. Hundreds of thousands, millions of us, are standing up from the get-go against Trump and Republican control of Congress. We are demanding that Democrats stand up and join this resistance and to let them know that, whatever they do, a people’s movement is rising that will be taking action not just this coming week but in the weeks and months to come.

The crises we face, including the threat of catastrophic, worldwide climate disruption leading to widespread societal breakdowns, are too serious to be left to politicians of any party.

Here are most of the major actions happening in DC starting tomorrow:

Saturday, Jan. 14, and Sunday, Jan. 15: DisruptJ20 has direct action training camp. On the 14ththe National Action Network is organizing a We Shall Not Be Moved March on Washington. On the 15th, the 88th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Interfaith Moral Action on Climate is organizing a spiritual assembly and walk to the White House.

Wednesday, Jan. 18: Check out Build and Resist: Climate Convergence and Action at the Inauguration and Earth2Trump Roadshow of Resistance. The Climate Justice Alliance also plans trainings and mobilization.

Thursday, Jan. 19: Take action in the morning at FERC to Resist Trump’s FERC.

Inauguration Day, Friday, Jan. 20: #Disrupt J20 has a Facebook page and a website here. In addition, numerous permitted rallies and nonviolent civil disobedience are planned - many of them are connected to or discussed on this Facebook event.

Saturday, Jan. 21: The Women’s March on Washington will begin at Independence Ave and 3rd St. SW.  Here is the Facebook page and website.

It’s time to put on our marching shoes.


Ted Glick has been a progressive activist and organizer since 1968. Past writings and other information can be found at www.tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick

 

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