Medgar and Martin Speak We Need Now To Listen
In Jackson, Mississippi in 1955, Medgar Evers lead an economic boycott during the Easter Season which was 90% effective in terms of black community participation. The downtown stores in Jackson who sought black dollars without giving blacks any semblance of respect were indeed adversely affected by this tactic of dollar withdrawal. Medgar Evers firmly believed that if our communities withheld economic support of corporations that depended on our economic dollars; eventually this boycott tactic would lead to a redistribution of wealth. Those in need of our dollars would have to bring support back into our languishing communities. Medgar believed that ultimately black power depended on the judicious utilization of black dollars to affect righteous change and positive growth in black communities. Hence, we as a unified people control the fate of our own communities. This was a dangerous proposal and if it caught any energy it would necessitate action some in the society would be unwilling to take. Medgar Evers ended up murdered in his driveway in 1963 along with his plans to devise measures to expand his plans for an economic boycott.
In 1967 and in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was focused on delivering economic justice to the nation of suffering Black Americans. King had proposed a strategic model that entailed a mass movement of poor people to go to the nation's capital and deliver a message. That message would not be delivered in a day-long session on the Mall in Washington. Dr. King wanted a Poor People's Campaign that would highlight the issue of poverty in this nation. He wanted to deliver a statement that America would have these visitors in the capitol until the demands of economic justice had been met. As in the case of Medgar Evers, this was indeed a call for economic radicalization to withhold support in exchange for judicious action. Even on April 3, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee the night before he was tragically murdered by an assassin's bullet on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Martin Luther King Jr. called for an economic redistribution of the pain to ensure this economic power as well as some measure of economic equality.
As we enter another festive season in this country where our black dollars will be spent to buy gifts for ourselves and others. This nation still has yet to meet the conditions that give our communities full rights of economic justice. We as a community still have inequality in our communities whether it be in dollar retention, housing, education or even simple civil justice. This year over 200 black people has been killed by law enforcement officers in this nation. That figure is as high as the number of blacks killed during the height of the lynching seasons of Jim Crow. Our communities income gap between white communities is higher now than in 1964 prior to the Civil Rights Bills being enacted. So how can we address these issues? We need unification strategies that will elicit support from all sectors of our communities. We need to demand that our communities accept nothing less than what this nation owes us for our contribution to its wealth. If we cannot move the needle towards any meaningful solutions confronting our communities. Then our long suffering communities are doomed to continuous failure. The times are pressing in America and us as a community are falling behind further each and every day. Black Americans can no longer be satisfied with our plummeting literacy rates and expanding income gaps. We, and I mean we allowed many of these travesties to occur on our watch. We sat by and allowed the infusion of drugs into our communities and with these drugs came the onslaught of violence and mayhem. We have lost numerous generations of our youths to the street violence and the penal incarcerations that have sapped the future of so many of our families and friends. We can say it’s because of white supremacy because this system has indeed denied us true rights. However, if we want to change that change will only come from within ourselves not from any outside force, or outside dimension.
So when the call comes for focused income withdrawal, just may be the time to listen to what Medgar and Martin were saying is finally now.