Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

“Poor People. King’s Real Last Dream.”

When we mentioned Martin Luther King’s name today, the image arises of his “I have a dream” speech in Washington, D.C. which has been replayed by media more than any other. By the time of his assassination, he had moved quite away past that speech, condemning U.S. militarism, racism, capitalism, and poverty.

His uncompleted work was his call for a poor people’s campaign designed to appeal to all of the impoverished across America: black, white, Latino, Native American, and Asian. King, by embracing poor people, had grown beyond a black leader and beyond civil rights to the ideals advocated by Malcolm X: human rights. Among the demands of the campaign: a guaranteed income for all.

King’s assassination on April 4th, 1968 took the most gifted activists off the board and, with it, much of the energy behind the campaign until now. Today, 50 years after King’s assassination, activists have emerged to rekindle his dream of a poor people’s campaign. Across America, local and national voices are organizing, trying to bring King’s dream to life. Activist scholars Reverend William Barber and Dr. Liz Theo-Harris are calling for a poor people’s campaign for this new century.

The poor people’s campaign and the Institute for Policy Studies have just produced a new report called “The Souls of Poor Folk” inspired by the classic work by W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk. The report links impoverishment, systemic racism, attacks on voting rights, attacks on the environment itself, and the war economy to reveal America’s war on the poor.

Reverends Barber and Theo-Harris call for 40 days of protests to put teeth into the campaign, one that calls for non-violent actions all across the nation. They’re calling for nothing less than the resurgence of mass movements to challenge what King opposed and his last year of life: poverty, systemic racism, rampant militarism, and capitalism and its effects on global climate systems. King would be proud.

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From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.