Real talk, not Hallmark
On the day we officially and collectively honor the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. I took some time to look through some primary sources and found so much that speaks to as urgently today as it did during his life. Here are some images and quotes from a piece he wrote for The Socialist Call in 1956 (Vol. XXIV, 6 June 1956). I imagine that a lot of people who've rendered his searing words down to toothless & comfortable platitudes about "unity" and "peace" to be regurgitated onto social media every 3rd Monday in January would be scandalized about him submitting work to a loudly socialist publication, but that's what he was about. Radical love, radical socialism, radical change. It got him killed, yet he speaks to us still.
The ‘New Negro’ of the South: Behind the Montgomery Story - The Socialist Call (1956)
Transcript (with notes) from Stanford University
It seems to be a fact of life that human nature cannot continue to do wrong without eventually reaching out for some rationalization which will help to clothe an obvious wrong in the beautiful garments of righteousness.
Truly it was an obnoxious negative peace, for true peace is not merely the absence of some negative force—confusion, tension, war—but the presence of some positive force—justice, good will, brotherhood.
The story of Montgomery is the story of 50,000 Negroes who are tired of injustices and oppression, and who are willing to substitute tired feet for tired souls, and walk and walk until the walls of injustice are crushed by the battering rams of historical necessity. This is the new Negro. We have come a long way since 1619.
But history has proven that social systems have a great last-minute breathing power. And the guardians of the status-quo are always on hand with their oxygen tents to preserve the dying order.
Let’s not fool ourselves. We are far from the promised land, both North and South. In the South we still confront segregation in its glaring and conspicuous forms. In the North we confront it in its hidden and subtle forms. Segregation is still a fact. It is true that segregation is on its death bed. But history has proven that social systems have a great last-minute breathing power. And the guardians of the status-quo are always on hand with their oxygen tents to preserve the dying order.