Five years after the March, Dr. King was speaking out against the Vietnam War, condemning America's militarism and imperialism - famously stating that our nation was the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world."
For the past several years, I have spent virtually all my working hours writing about or speaking about the immorality, cruelty, racism, and insanity of our nation's latest caste system: mass incarceration. On this Facebook page I have written and posted about little else. But as I pause today to reflect on the meaning and significance of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I realize that my focus has been too narrow.
Five years after the March, Dr. King was speaking out against the Vietnam War, condemning America's militarism and imperialism - famously stating that our nation was the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world." He saw the connections between the wars we wage abroad, and the utter indifference we have for poor people, and people of color at home. He saw the necessity of openly critiquing an economic system that will fund war and will reward greed, hand over fist, but will not pay workers a living wage. Five years after the March on Washington, Dr. King was ignoring all those who told him to just stay in his lane, just stick to talking about civil rights. Yet here I am decades later, staying in my lane. I have not been speaking publicly about the relationship between drones abroad and the War on Drugs at home. I have not been talking about the connections between the corrupt capitalism that bails out Wall Street bankers, moves jobs overseas, and forecloses on homes with zeal, all while private prisons yield high returns and expand operations into a new market: caging immigrants.
I have not been connecting the dots between the NSA spying on millions of Americans, the labeling of mosques as "terrorist organizations," and the spy programs of the 1960s and 70s - specifically the FBI and COINTELPRO programs that placed civil rights advocates under constant surveillance, infiltrated civil rights organizations, and assassinated racial justice leaders. I have been staying in my lane. But no more.
In my view, the most important lesson we can learn from Dr. King is not what he said at the March on Washington, but what he said and did after. In the years that followed, he did not play politics to see what crumbs a fundamentally corrupt system might toss to the beggars of justice. Instead he connected the dots and committed himself to building a movement that would shake the foundations of our economic and social order, so that the dream he preached in 1963 might one day be a reality for all. He said that nothing less than "a radical restructuring of society" could possibly ensure justice and dignity for all. He was right. I am still committed to building a movement to end mass incarceration, but I will not do it with blinders on. If all we do is end mass incarceration, this movement will not have gone nearly far enough. A new system of racial and social control will be born again, all because we did not do what King demanded we do: connect the dots between poverty, racism, militarism and materialism. I'm getting out of my lane. I hope you're already out of yours.
Thank you for summarizing what many of us who were in Washington DC Aug. 24th, 2013 saw and felt. It is OUR STRUGGLE AND NO ONE SHOULD DEPEND ON THE SPEAKERS to wage it for us!!
This isn't hate mail to David Zirin, but it is a brief note to say that his article leaves much to be desired; it doesn't really capture the significance and scope of the march. Instead it appears to examine the march through the lens of a very narrow agenda and politics. The breadth of the speakers was a strength of the march, not a weakness; it will take more than left to resist and turn back the new racist offensive, orchestrated in the first place by right wing extremism; as for King not being allowed to speak if he were still alive, well, that is so silly that it is not worthy of comment. If there was a shortcoming, it was the insufficient participation of white people and people of color other than African Americans. If anything should agitate us about the march, it should be this.
This is best article I have read/heard in reference to the March on Saturday
Thank You for your courage to report the plain TRUTH.
Interesting book - many facts and names you don't - but should - know.
You may find the following interesting from the BBC on the "March on Washington."
An historical footnote that speaks volumes.
Martin Luther King and the race riot that never was
By Nick Bryant - BBC News
, New York August 25, 2013
Actually, it was way higher than 4%, as that figure never includes those who just have come into the job market; in fact, in the African American community that year it was about 22%. I think it was Keyserling who provided the figures at that time and who reminded us to note that those figures never include the young people who have just entered the job market.
This effort to claim there's a "new majority" of youth, minority, gay and lesbian, women, labor, and immigrant voters" is the wistful thinking of those who believe in "identity politics" is the way forward.
It's true that taken together, those groups do make up a majority of the population (indeed, women do it alone) but are each fragmented into numerous political and cultural subgroups, many of which do not believe they have any common interests.
In fact, although each of those groups contain a minority which are suspicious of capitalism their dissent from current politics is based primarily on their own fragmented interests. And the vast majority of each group believes their complaints can be satisfied under the current economic system and are not necessarily related to any of the other group's grievances.
This is worth reading, whatever you think of what Bradley Manning did. Remember what it was like to be very young, when we still believed we could make the world a better place?
Nancy Schaeffer Braman
Good points, well made. I suggest sending it to friends and, if you've a moment, let your member of Congress knew your views.
Clearly with no obvious people in the opposition able to be a substitute government, the idea of a ceasefire and UN protection for people is perhaps a good one. But how to get to that situation?
I doubt if the populace is interested in a truce with the same parties involved.
The question is how do you put a rogue country under administration so that it can rebuild, develop new leaders, and move beyond this situation. Keeping the govt. in or keeping the opposition out are not solutions. Handing territory over to war lords is positively medieval. But international pressure to pressure the UN to go in and establish an emergency administration is appealing. Of course both sides would resist but if the UN were backed by many nations, it might be able to act.
Something has to happen as people's lives are being ruined for no good reason.
August 28, 2013
A US military attack on Syria will only escalate the violence, create more destruction and loss of life, and derail efforts to work with Russia to convene an international peace conference. Such an attack will inflame an already dangerous situation and have unpredictable consequences, possibly leading to a disastrous regional war in the Middle East with US involvement. Such a war also will be a major blow to the progressive majority in our country, bringing a new wave of militarism at home and end efforts to cut the military budget to fund social programs. The solution to the Syrian conflict lies with international negotiations with full Syrian participation to achieve a cease fire and begin a nonviolent political process. A US attack only makes the situation worse and a solution more remote.
The use of chemical weapons is a reprehensible, heinous crime. The US should fully support the independent UN investigation and join with all members of the Security Council, including Russia and China, to fashion an appropriate response according to international law. But it must be noted that the U.S. has no moral `high ground' on this matter. The US is a perpetrator of the "Agent Orange" chemical war against Vietnam, whose people are still suffering from the results, and an enabler of Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war. Far from being motivated by humanitarian concerns, U.S policy is rooted in the desire to maintain strategic dominance in the Middle East and secure oil supplies.
CCDS calls for working with United for Peace and Justice, Peace Action and other peace groups to oppose such an attack before it occurs, and if it happens to follow through with actions to prevent further escalation and bring it to an immediate end. Start by putting some heat on your Member of Congress, even if it's only a phone call or an email.
Good Story. As a friend of SEIU , Monica Russo and being the local Jobs for Justice president, some years ago in Florida, I hope to present an argument of being an organization of "helping" to organize and represent Associate Worker Contractors, since the business is moving toward temporary workers. This would correspond to Tolliver's arguments regarding "Future Shock", "Third Wave" and moving "Prosumption". I am suggesting "worker capitalism" that is inclusive. These are preliminary thoughts.
Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that Gayle McLaughlin is a member of the Green Party.
I tend to agree with the comment that the post "Why Is the U.S.'s 1 Percent So Much Richer Than Everywhere Else?" did not really answer that question but it did, however, contain very valuable data which help to give the answer.
The historical sequence, showing increases in inequality in many countries, shows remarkable similarity: sometime between 1975 and 1985, there was a point of inflection in the historical trend. This was when inequality started to increase in the major capitalist powers.
This corresponds to a global phenomenon, the change in the balance of political influence of the USSR and other socialist countries, compared to the leading capitalist ones.
There is a real exception to this timescale in Germany, where the inflection did not occur until after 1990. Again, this corresponds to the time leading up to the GDR's (East Germany) incorporation into the Federal German state.
So, the data as a whole show that inequality in capitalist societies declined while the influence of a socialist alternative was strong. There was socialist competition from states which, whatever their faults, had very low levels of inequality and highly developed welfare systems. The ruling classes in the 'west' were well aware of this competition and its possible, and real 'unsettling' effects on the working peoples of their countries. The result was to put limits on the inequality inherent in capitalism. The extent of this limitation varied with the political and economic strength of the socialist alternative, internationally and nationally. Viewed in this light, the extreme inequality in the USA is also explained. Where the socialist movement is weakest, there inequality will be highest.
This point, I think, is extremely important, and almost obvious. It is not easily recognized, or is denied, by those who dislike recognizing the real importance of the USSR and its allies. These data, however, and all the historical experience of 'Reaganism', 'Thatcherism', the victory of 'Chicago School' economics, in short the aggressive neoliberal attack on working people, support this idea.
Margrit Adler Pittman
1919 -- 2013
Sunday, October 6th
2 to 5 pm
the Church of the Holy Apostles
296 9th Ave New York, NY
corner of 28th Street & Ninth Avenue
New York City
please rsvp to:
by Jason Louv
August 26th, 2013
250 million protests worldwide, from 1979-2013, visualized in one time-lapse image
- See more at
Penn State doctoral candidate John Beieler has created a time-lapse visualization of every protest on the planet since 1979. And it is jaw-dropping, and I mean that in a real way, not in a BS blogger-overhyping-this-incredible-amazing-thing way. No, this is truly amazing, because what you'll see is tiny blips popping off here and there in the 1970s-a time we think of as highly politically charged-and nearly eclipsing the world starting with the late 90s anti-globalization protests and the second Iraq War up till our present moment.
I would love to see this overlaid with time-lapse visualizations of other factors: global warming, globalization, wars, food shortage, and the spread of the Internet.
Also fruitful: Comparing this data with media coverage and treatment of protest. Why is it easy to think of the 1960s and 70s as a time of dissent and our time as a more ordered, controlled and conformist period when the data so clearly shows that there is no comparison in how much protest there is now compared to then? Media distortion much?
Via Foreign Policy:
This is what data from a world in turmoil looks like. The Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) tracks news reports and codes them for 58 fields, from where an incident took place to what sort of event it was (these maps look at protests, violence, and changes in military and police posture) to ethnic and religious affiliations, among other categories. The dataset has recorded nearly 250 million events since 1979, according to its website, and is updated daily.
The map also shows some of the limits of Big Data - and trying to reduce major global events to coded variables. Take, for example, the protests across the United States in late 2011: Some are Occupy protests, others are Tea Party protests, but the difference in the political identity of those demonstrations isn't reflected in the map. There are some strange things that happen when the data are mapped, as well. A cursory glance at the map would suggest that Kansas is the most restive state in the union, but really the frequent protests popping up somewhere near Wichita are every media mention of a protest in the United States that doesn't specify a city (the same goes for that flickering dot north of Mongolia in Middle-of-Nowhere, Russia).
[Moderator's Note: Some major peace demonstrations - June 12, 1982; Feb. 15. 2003 - are missing. If those are missing, who knows what else is missing? (thanks to Leslie Cagan for pointing this out.)]