Martin Luther King Jr.: “All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny…We are made to live together.” Today our “garment of destiny” is woven of threads far more multicolored than in King’s day.
Some leading unions are hard at work and a few social movement groups move beyond protest. But mostly we love to demonstrate and march and respond to crisis, or to post opinion on social media, but shy away from the hard work of organizing
King repeatedly identified the “giant triplets:” racism, materialism/exploitation/poverty and militarism. This post suggests a slight revision of two of the triplets I believe still in keeping with King’s vision.
By embracing Gandhi’s innovation King avoided the mistake of so many would-be revolutionaries, who — by focusing too narrowly on the conventional politics of violence or their preconceived expectations — missed the actual revolution
King’s historical memory found the roots of revolution in the best of American political traditions. The student led sit-in movement renewed the civil rights struggle and launched the student movement.
King envisioned a revolution of values, a freedom revolution that would destroy the institutionalized structures of oppression. This revolution took shape in current social movements but was also deeply rooted in the American past.
The beloved community evoked a world based on community values of mutual aid and cooperation, the recognition of interdependence, shared responsibility and respect freely given.
It is hard to believe that age-old problems like race and war can be surmounted or the catastrophes of climate change avoided. Without a rhetorical strategy that can promote purpose and confidence, fear and fatalism will weaken our efforts.
King placed civil disobedience within a framework consistent with the inside/outside strategy. The disruptive nature of direct action and the process of negotiations are part of the same strategy.
Martin Luther King was one of the few political leaders, then or now, that was able to articulate a coherent political strategy that emerged from and connected with on-the-ground social movement activism.