Mar. 28, 2018

The Beginning Of His End, March 28, 1968

50 years ago today Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was beginning the last week of his life. He didn't know that it was the ending of his life but he did, in fact, suspect it. Dr. King was going through a cataclysmic sway of emotions in the final months of his life. The emotional support that he had always depended on seemed to be ebbing because of the stands that he took regarding America's involvement in the war in Southeast Asia, as well as his decision to shift the civil rights movement to an economic rights movement for poor people in America.
Those supporters both black and white who had stood in Dr. King's corner in the freedom struggle of Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham, Jackson, and Albany were now dissatisfied that King had seemingly lost his direction. Even his closest advisors in SCLC, the organization he had founded were in open rebellion with Dr. King so-called voice of the mass of black people. They felt he was off-track and that this new focus was doomed to failure.
The young blacks voices like Carmichael, Brown, and Richardson were shifting away from tactics of direct non-violent agitation to openly supporting violent confrontations to gain racial progress. The older black moderates voices in the community like Rowan, Wilkens, Marshall, and Young were demanding that King rescind his statements regarding his opposition to the Vietnam War. White moderates were simply tired of blacks demanding equality of rights. Many moderate whites felt that King's demands had been addressed with the Civil Rights Bill, Voting Rights Bill and The Fair Housing Bills. It was time for King to back away from his stances and return to preaching in Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church.
It is fair to say that 3/4 of America population probably had an unfavorable opinion of Dr. Martin Luther King on March 28, 1968. Dr. King had a glorious plan that he conceived to bring masses of poor people of all races to the nation's capital to demand equality now judicially but economically. Dr. King wanted the same benefits that had been provided many immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century to elevate people and eliminate poverty. That demand, that dream, was the most dangerous thought of Martin Luther King Jr. because it threatened the wealth distribution of America's capitalistic society. The target or bullseye on Dr. King back was illuminated by a thousand degrees.
Then came Memphis, Tennessee, the sanitation workers strike and Dr. Martin Luther King's fateful decision to pull the forces of direct peaceful non-violent action to this situation. Unknowingly on March 28, 1968, the march for the sanitation workers of Memphis, Tennessee was disturbed by violent disturbances by a few of the participants. Those acts of violence forced the state to intercede with military and police intervention. Many would conclude the entire disruption was a part of a government scheme bent on destroying Dr. Martin Luther King's movement. The final week of Dr. Martin Luther King's life had begun. The plan was set in place and Memphis, Tennessee would be white powers reckoning to silence permanently the voice of the prince of peace.