Martin Luther King’s Radical Anti-Capitalism

Mlkpoorpeople_ap-e1515789258600Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor at The Paris Review:

In a posthumously published essay, Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out that the “black revolution” had gone beyond the “rights of Negroes.” The struggle, he said, is “forcing America to face all of its interrelated flaws—racism, poverty, militarism and materialism. It is exposing the evils that are rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals systemic rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced.”

But it had not started out that way. Over the course of a decade, the black struggle opened up a deeper interrogation of U.S. society, and King’s politics traversed the same course.

Indeed, in the early 1960s, the Southern movement coalesced around the clearly defined demands to end Jim Crow segregation and secure the right of African Americans to unfettered access to the franchise. With clear targets and barometers for progress or failure, a broad social movement was able to uproot these systems of oppression. King was lauded as a tactician as well as someone who could articulate the grievances and aspirations of black Southerners.

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