Turning King’s Dream into a Nightmare by Chris Hedges

by Chris Hedges
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Jan. 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Day has become a yearly ritual to turn a black radical into a red-white-and-blue icon. It has become a day to celebrate ourselves for “overcoming” racism and “fulfilling” King’s dream. It is a day filled with old sound bites about little black children and little white children that, given the state of America, would enrage King. Most of our great social reformers, once they are dead, are kidnapped by the power elite and turned into harmless props of American glory. King, after all, was not only a socialist but fiercely opposed to American militarism and acutely aware, especially at the end of his life, that racial justice without economic justice was a farce.

“King’s words have been appropriated by the people who rejected him in the 1960s,” said Professor James Cone, who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York and who wrote the book Martin & Malcolm & America. “So by making his birthday a national holiday everybody claims him, even though they opposed him while he was alive. They have frozen King in 1963 with his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. That is the one that can best be manipulated and misinterpreted. King also said, shortly after the Selma march and the riots in Watts, ‘they have turned my dream into a nightmare.’”


via Truthdig

Copyright © 2010 Truthdig

Chris Hedges spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He has written nine books, including Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009) and War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2003).


Marginalizing Martin: Ignoring MLK’s Still-Relevant Speech by Ed Ciaccio

War cannot end terrorism

from the archives:

A Time to Break Silence By Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967)

William Pepper: The Execution of Martin Luther King (2003)

2 thoughts on “Turning King’s Dream into a Nightmare by Chris Hedges

  1. Want to know why King was assassinated? Read the last speech he ever gave, the Mountain Top Speech (http://www.kingian.net/ive-been-to-the-mountaintop.html).

    In it, King said “Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal….collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine.” He followed this observation with a call to separate black wealth from the larger white economy. “I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in [black owned financial institutions].”

    Considering that America worships Mammon to the exclusion of everything else, with the blatant exception of the violent application of power, this was deemed overt treason to the wealthy WASP society that denies justice to those denied wealth. He had to be stopped before he brought this call to power to fruition.

    Sadly, for American and for the world, he was stopped. And by enshrining him as a co-opted American social saint, his political solution to unrequited social issues was intended to die with him. It remains to be seen if they succeeded.

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