While many march and celebrate a fictitious King today, his family, largely ignored, call on no one to celebrate the holiday till voting rights are protected, with the current reversal of laws by the Supreme Court, some things are worse than what they were in the late 60s when King and the movement were struggling to pass those very rights. I myself will not march to hypocrisy, while we lack democracy at home, a democracy that King gave his life for. What is often overlooked or whitewashed when it comes to the American (US) mythology of King, which has turned King into a fictional character, was King’s radical revolution of values.

Indeed, King called himself a Democratic Socialist, as did George Orwell, and many other figures who are remembered for being something else. King called for a radical revolution beyond reform, beyond civil rights to human rights. King called for an end to imperialism, and against popular opinion, came out in 1967 against the Vietnam War, and many abandoned him as a result, especially the liberal groups. I remember in January 2012 at Occupy Boston I helped organize a meeting that played the recording of King’s Beyond Vietnam speech from April 1967. I also remember that speech playing from cars when we marched for King in January 2020 in Baltimore from my trip there. Those working class revolutionary marches or meetings were more close to King’s spirit, not the bourgeois ones you tend to see now. When King marched with the workers in 1968 shortly before his assassination, he did with the clothes of workers, taking off his suite and tie and showing solidarity. The ones who remained with King after his anti-war speech, were the Socialists, and he became more militant, like Malcolm before him (assassinated in 65′), as a result. Politically militant, not as an extremist, but a radical, which only means to get to the root causes of societal problems (radic in the word comes from Latin meaning root).

The prestige of receiving the Nobel prize in 1964, did not prevent him from losing much support, and this is largely overlooked historically as well. He was in fact blackmailed by Hoover (corrupt head of FBI) to not go to Norway and receive the prize, but went anyway. But that is another story. I am not just an historian, an activist, like King was (not comparing myself to him), but I am the son of a man last year who was on the Nobel Prize Committee, to select people like King for different categories (my father is in the process of applying to be on it again). Not everyone who was nominated were perfect, nor was King perfect. Am not here to call the man a saint, but to call him for what he was.

King believed in a fight, a fight to rid the world, and especially US society, where he resided, of what he called the three evils. These were racism, materialism and militarism. He is often looked at for his long plight against racism, but that was only a third of the man in his political and social struggle (as well as spiritual). Let us look to the other two. He believed the Capitalist system was inherently excessively materialistic, as a Sociologist and an activist preacher for social justice, believed Socialism should replace that system. Like Einstein, he thought the best system to fight Capitalism was indeed Socialism, not a Stalinist, King believed in democratic forms of Socialism, as an economic and political alternative to the dominant system of the time. Poverty and all forms of discrimination could only end with a Socialist system in his view. King saw as well that imperialism, was inherently militaristic, and led the US on adventures like Vietnam which would only make more hate in the world and hate against us.

To conclude, King helped change public opinion on Vietnam, but not before the last year of his life being betrayed and abandoned by much of his base, which bourgeois historians do not like to admit today. He was in fact assassinated on the year anniversary of his speech coming out against Vietnam publicly for the first time. In 1999, in a civil lawsuit, his surviving family won a settlement against the US government, who they proved, along with the Mafia, conspired to kill King. Yet this is not taught in classrooms in public schools today, nor the blackmail, nor the abandoning, nor the true motive of the assassination and all its accomplices. We must show the truth, even if its ugly, even if its unpopular, I learned that lesson from King himself. We honor him by not building statues or worshiping him, but acting on his legacy against this vicious imperialist-Capitalist system, and offering alternative systems to the people! All tactics must be considered, and all the sacrifice of leaders and those lesser known must be honored, the real history must be shown to future generations.