Poor People's Campaign Merit Attention
By Baruti KMT
Sunday, 31 December 2006 - 12:00 PM

Have you ever had that "empty" feeling? The kind where you seem helpless to assist in the forward movement of a situation. In many cases, this feeling of emptiness derives from the seemingly lack of concern exhibited by the very people you're attempting to help.

As we choose paths that are placed before us daily, the act of thinking takes place. Thinking is the process through which you must go, in order to choose the direction in which you will proceed. Such a concept, although directed at the individual in this sense, does not absolve the larger community from appropriate action.

For instance, yesterday was set aside to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; however, the question that beckons, how many of us actually took time to reflect upon the life of one who not only spoke against the institution that served as an impediment to people of African descent, but also who spoke against the disenfranchisement of ALL people? Not many, perhaps some, maybe a few.

Given the state of affairs in this country, it is easy to overlook the accomplishments of one who gave tirelessly of himself; that is until his birthday rolls around. Then, during that time, the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., along with his "I Have a Dream" speech seems to become omnipresent. Why must the citizens of this country wait until January to acknowledge the legacy of Dr. King?

Often, when the celebratory efforts have ceased, the country returns to "business as usual;" continued marginalization of the very peoples that Dr. King fought so hard for. Perhaps, what should be done, is to engage in the examination of the political ideologies, and thoughts of Dr. King, and others who sought to correct the problems, that they believed would stagnate our movement into the 21st Century. Such an investigation, will provide a new perspective when it comes to understanding the legacy of Dr. King.

To better understand what has precipitated the current situation, an analysis of the political and social history of this country should be undertaken as well. (Just a suggestion to those who really want to find a solution that will effect positive change for all.) One such political/social tidbit, is the 1968 campaign for the nation's poor.

One can only imagine the outcome of the "Poor Peoples Campaign," that was to take place on 19 April 1968, and continue until the "wealthiest nation in the history of mankind" responded to the demands put forth by Dr. King and campaign organizers. Yet, sixteen days prior to this endeavor, Dr. King was assassinated.

As we attempt to re-examine, and re-define the community within which we find ourselves, perhaps we should begin by opening our eyes to the seriousness of our prolonged stupor, and the desensitization that has caused the current situation to manifest itself. For if some critical analysis were to take place, perhaps the life of Dr. King could take on a different meaning.

Column originally published in Signal (Georgia State University's student newspaper) 21 January 1997

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