The Radical Truth-Telling of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
written by the Co-Directors of the Truth Telling Project
During times of great trouble, even the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is difficult to celebrate because of the many ways in which our society failed to heed King’s message. But we must celebrate because there are many ways in which our society has learned from MLK. We should celebrate because this holiday commemorates a person who sacrificed his life for the community. We must celebrate as a reminder to ground ourselves in a legacy of a constructive and morally framed struggle. And we must delve deeper than the often hollow renditions by instead moving toward embracing the prophetic wisdom of Dr. King and all of those who surrounded and made his legacy possible. King was not alone in his work and the formation of his ideas: Dorothy Cotton, Vincent Harding, Bernard Lafayette, Coretta ScottKing, Bayard Rustin and so, so many others.
In the spirit of delving deeper into the prophetic wisdom of Dr. King, below are some readings, videos and podcasts that reflect his wisdom as applied to our current moment in history:
This new decade began with the U.S. banging on the war drums with the assassination General Qasem Soleimani. It is inspiring to see so many people say no to war. Communities across the country stood up to say no to all violence, war profiteering, and exploitation of other nations.
Rev. Dr. Emma Simpson-Jordan speaks of the prophetic insight calling on U.S. Americans to have a revolution of values. Click here to read more.
While the U.S. becomes more militarized and the march to war continues, many have pointed out the impact of war on those in poverty. Click here to read more.
Since Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans have been impacted by this presidential administration’s failure to address catastrophic natural disasters- most recently earthquakes. Click here to read more. At the same time, astronomical military spending continues on a border wall and in the planning of future wars.
Violence is never isolated. The racially motivated hatred influencing U.S. policy has emboldened those seeking to use violence to increase divisions in our nation.
Virginia has declared a state of emergency and banned all fire-arms from the capitol grounds. Click here to read more.
There is hope. Martin Luther King offered a moral challenge to our underlying economic model with a philosophy of abundance. Click here to read more.
Shifting our values away from the interconnected triplets of evils — militarism & war, materialism, and racism — are part of a necessary intervention. The Campaign FOR Truth & Reparations have focused on the possibility of reparations as a spiritual, political, and moral intervention. Reparations in this case would mean accountability. In his 1967 anti-war speech, MLK speaking about war against Vietnam said, “… we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done….” In this sense, repairing can lead to peace. Read more about peace and reparations here.
This understanding of reparations for damages in war is how we have articulated reparations. MLK spoke to healing in this rarely seen YouTube video:
Since the god of money has taken control of many in this nation, one of the less utilized ways to challenge the racism that created the need for reparations is to divest from injustice.
Corporations are profiting from prison labor. Click here to read.
- Learn how to divest from prisons here.
Corporations profiting from redlining and housing discrimination. Click here to read.
- Learn about the Black women fighting gentrification here.
- You can also take the reparations pledge here.
Corporations profiting from environmental degradation. Click here to read.
- Learn how to divest here.
Corporations profiting from the horrific violence of war. Click here to read.
- Divest from the war machine here.
MLK and the movements with which we are all connected offer hope and the prophetic wisdom to frame the material and moral struggle we fight.
Thank you for doing your part in peace and justice work. Let’s continue to walk together.