Tag Archives: Martin Luther King Jr

How the distortion of Martin Luther King Jr.‘s words enables more, not less, racial division within American society

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a cheering crowd in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 27, 1965.
Bettmann/Getty Images


Hajar Yazdiha, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas is just the latest conservative lawmaker to misuse the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to judge a person on character and not race.

In the protracted battle to elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House, Roy, a Republican, nominated a Black man, Byron Donalds, a two-term representative from Florida who had little chance of winning the seat. Considered a rising star in the GOP, Donalds has opposed the very things that King fought for and ultimately was assassinated for – nonviolent demonstrations and voting rights protections. Continue reading

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US is becoming a ‘developing country’ on global rankings that measure democracy, inequality

People wait in line for a free morning meal in Los Angeles in April 2020. High and rising inequality is one reason the U.S. ranks badly on some international measures of development.
Frederic J. Brown/ AFP via Getty Images


Kathleen Frydl, Johns Hopkins University

The United States may regard itself as a “leader of the free world,” but an index of development released in July 2022 places the country much farther down the list.

In its global rankings, the United Nations Office of Sustainable Development dropped the U.S. to 41st worldwide, down from its previous ranking of 32nd. Under this methodology – an expansive model of 17 categories, or “goals,” many of them focused on the environment and equity – the U.S. ranks between Cuba and Bulgaria. Both are widely regarded as developing countries. Continue reading

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How the Vietnam War pushed MLK to embrace global justice, not only civil rights at home

President Lyndon B. Johnson, right, talks with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders in his White House office in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 1964.
AP Photo

Anthony Siracusa, University of Colorado Boulder

On July 2, 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. stood behind President Lyndon Baines Johnson as the Texan signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although not the first civil rights bill passed by Congress, it was the most comprehensive.

King called the law’s passage “a great moment … something like the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.” Johnson recognized King’s contributions to the law by gifting him a pen used to sign the historic legislation. Continue reading

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A long walk back to the garden: Woodstock turns 50

Whatever happened to that blissful dawn? I want it back.

By Gregory Leffel. Published 8-13-2019 by openDemocracy

Woodstock, 15 August 1969. | James M Shelley via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Woodstock…Over your half-open name
rumors of life raised a curtain
where linger, limned by childhood memories,
the legacies of ancient ties
binding our tribe to the garden primeval. Edgar Brau

It’s Woodstock’s fiftieth. Happy birthday! But which Woodstock shall we celebrate? I prefer the nostalgic “legacies of ancient ties binding our tribe to the garden primeval” version from Edgar Brau’s acclaimed poem “Woodstock.” But that’s just me, and it’s a long story.

There’s also the received popular media version, the historical event itself: half-a-million efflorescing, tie-dyed baby-boomers in full bloom at flood tide; three days in rock and roll heaven; three days of peace in a nation at war with itself. The Sixties, a decade by turns fractured, violent, deadly, righteous, subversive, creative and mythological got captured in a single image, as if one picture could distill the decade’s entire ordeal and make sense of it. Continue reading

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The soundtrack of the Sixties demanded respect, justice and equality

File 20181029 76405 t6rnc6.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

The Supremes, with their polished performances and family-friendly lyrics, helped to bridge a cultural divide and temper racial tensions. AP Photo/Frings

Michael V. Drake, The Ohio State University

When Sly and the Family Stone released “Everyday People” at the end of 1968, it was a rallying cry after a tumultuous year of assassinations, civil unrest and a seemingly interminable war.

“We got to live together,” he sang, “I am no better and neither are you.”

Throughout history, artists and songwriters have expressed a longing for equality and justice through their music. Continue reading

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Hundreds Arrested Nationwide as Poor People’s Campaign Demands ‘End to the War Economy’

“We have a long history of wars against other people, mostly people of color, around the world. It’s time we stopped calling it the Defense Department and started calling it what it is: the Department of War.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-29-2018

In its demands unveiled last month, the Poor People’s Campaign called for “a reallocation of resources from the military budget to education, healthcare, jobs, and green infrastructure needs, and strengthening a Veterans Administration system that must remain public.” (Photo: Poor People’s Campaign/Twitter)

Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s warning that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom,” the Poor People’s Campaign launched its third week of action in cities nationwide on Tuesday with the aim of confronting the American war economy, which pours resources that could be used to provide healthcare and food to the poor at home into the killing of innocents aboad.

Hoisting signs that read “The War Economy Is Immoral” and “Ban Killer Drones,” demonstrators gathered at the capitol buildings of New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and several other states to denounce a militaristic system that profits “every time a bomb is dropped on innocent people.” Continue reading

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Is America’s Best Muslim Friend In the Middle East Being Crushed?

Written by Kani Xulam. Published with Author’s permission.

Turkish Embassy in Washington DC, about to be visited by local Kurds and their supporters. Photo by Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner (originally posted to Flickr as Turkish Embassy) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Turkish Embassy in Washington DC, about to be visited by local Kurds and their supporters. Photo by Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner (originally posted to Flickr as Turkish Embassy) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Why is President Obama silent over brazen human rights violations in Turkey?

Will America turn a blind eye to the shelling of Kurdish civilians by Ankara?

America supplies the Turkish state with weapons to murder Kurds, the only group that has bravely fought and defeated the West-hating Islamic State cutthroats.

This American policy of apathy stands logic on its head, and makes a mockery of common sense.

Basic human decency cries out against such blatant injustice!

Kurds have not attacked Turkey.  We only want what Abraham Lincoln justly hailed: “Self-government is better than good government.”

Kurds have never had a legitimate, let alone good, government under the Turks, and are now saying: mind your manners or else you are not welcome in our neighborhoods and cities.

Kurds share a country with the Turks—Turkey, which is fast becoming like Syria, an exporter of refugees and a brutal workshop for radical Islamists.

Kurds want to be a credit to the human race, and help Turkey turn into something like the old state of Czechoslovakia—a country that did not discriminate among the Czechs and the Slovaks at its birth and allowed their peaceful separation in 1993.

Kurds know that war is like an earthquake, and should be avoided at all costs—and if it has to be waged, it should only be done in self-defense, as Kurds are doing against Islamic State and Turkey now.

Kurds are horrified by news accounts of a 10 year-old Kurdish girl, Cemile Cagirga, murdered on the steps of her home by a Turkish sniper on September 7, 2015.  The Turkish lockdown of her city heartlessly forced her mother to keep her child’s decomposing body in the freezer till the authorities allowed her to bury her child five days later.

Kurds are shocked to see on homemade videos that a three month-old Kurdish baby, Miray Ince, was shot in the face by another Turkish sniper in Silopi.  When the child’s 80 year-old grandfather tried to rush her to the hospital, he too was shot dead.

The Ince family is still waiting to bury two generations in one day.

Kurds hate waking up on a Sunday morning to learn that a 38 year-old Kurdish woman, Melek Apaydin, sat down for breakfast in her home on Sunday, January 3, 2016—only have a shell from a Turkish tank blast her brains all over her living room.

Six thousand miles separate us from this gore and madness and yet as diaspora Kurds we are expected to sleep through it every night and report to work every morning as if it were business as usual.

It is not. Our loved ones can tell you that we can’t sleep at night, and can hardly make it through the day, wondering if peace with liberty will ever grace our lands again!

Unfortunately, Turkey is waging merciless war against the Kurds.

And yet, we come here in peace, ready to undergo suffering to make up for America’s sin of indifference towards this humanitarian crisis and Turkey’s sin of intransigence towards our immediate relatives.

Today, January 15, 2016, marks the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

He resisted the domination of whites over blacks, as we are resisting the domination of Turks over Kurds.

He also urged America to seek peace with Vietnam, as we are asking Turkey to do in Kurdistan.

We don’t claim to know how God works out these things.

We want the world to know that we will continue on the same road of nonviolence with Dr. King till death or victory comes our way.

To the Turks who are working in the embassy behind us, you can put an end to our presence here by urging your government to stop waging war on our loved ones, and lift the shroud of death hanging over our cities.

To the Kurds living in America, you can join our vigil.

To the Kurds living in other countries that respect the rule of law, you can ignite similar protests—until the world is aflame with our bold cry for justice.

To the Americans who are here or will see this statement of ours on the Internet, you can remain true to your noblest ideals—such as when your bravery buoyed Dr. King and crowned blacks with justice in America.

“He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it,” Dr. King declared.

American support for Kurdish justice, with the same vigor given Dr. King, can spark brushfires of freedom that will light up the world with courageous cries for freedom in Turkey and Kurdistan!

Thank you.

About the Author:
Kani Xulam is the Founder and Director of the American-Kurdish Information Network, an educational organization based in Washington, DC. He was featured in the 2010 Kevin McKiernan award-winning documentary, “Good Kurds, Bad Kurds.”

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