Martin Luther King Would Still Fuck Our Shit Up (Coretta Scott King Edition)

On April 27, 1968, little more than three weeks after her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, Coretta Scott King took his place as a speaker at an anti-Vietnam War rally in Central Park in New York City. She based the speech on notes she found in his pockets after his death. MLK had been speaking out against the bullshit war starting in 1967, and he was attacked mightily for it. CSK was continuing his work there as she was continuing his work in the civil rights movement. The Kings really saw no difference between the two.

After listing "Martin Luther King's ten commandments on Vietnam," which included "Thou shall not believe that the world supports the United States," CSK spoke on war and poverty in terms that are sadly still very real now, 55 years later:

"My husband always saw the problem of racism and poverty here at home and militarism abroad as two sides of the same coin. In fact, it is even very clear that our policy at home is to try to solve social problems through military means just as we have done abroad. The interrelatedness of domestic and foreign affairs is no longer questioned. The bombs we drop on the people of Vietnam continue to explode at home with all of their devastating potential...

"There is no reason why a nation as rich as ours should be blighted by poverty, disease, and illiteracy. It is plain that we don't care about our poor people except to exploit them as cheap labor and victimize them through excessive rents and consumer prices. Our Congress passes laws which subsidize corporation farms, oil companies, airlines, and houses for suburbia. But when they turn their attention to the poor, they suddenly become concerned about balancing the budget and cut back on the funds for Head Start, Medicare, and mental health appropriations."

Imagine being that strong and kicking that much ass after suffering such trauma. Imagine what it took for her, just four days after MLK's murder, to lead a silent march through Memphis in support of the striking sanitation workers, as Coretta Scott King did on April 8, 1968.

A couple of months later, Coretta Scott King stood in for her husband at another event that was scheduled prior to his death. It was the June 1968 commencement at Harvard University. CSK's speech here, like many of her husband's, made an explicit connection between the suffering of Black Americans and the perverse history of the country:

"For me, as for millions of black Americans, there is a special dimension to our national crisis. We are not only caught up in all the evils of contemporary society, we are its lowest and most deprived component. For most of us this is not a society of abundance but a society of want. We are not newly victimized by the loss of identity and alienation. We have suffered an imposed heritage of exclusion and frustration for generations. Our future is doubly bleak as we face the unabated racism and deepened deprivation reserved for Black Americans."

Black people in the United States, she explained, "live in squalor in slums, they are cheated in education, they cannot hope for normal married lives, and they can expect more diseases and earlier death than their white counterparts. To be Negro in the United States is to be the victim of a system of deprival in a context of personal humiliation. I do not speak impersonally. I was reared in second-class citizenship and have known the sting of humiliation in countless days of my life."

By the way, that's critical race theory. If you oppose it, you oppose Martin Luther King and if you're one of the right-wing pukes who use this day to talk about the "content of character," you should have his words slapped out of your racist pig mouth.

Martin Luther King would still fuck our shit up because his movement didn't die with him. Coretta Scott King stood firm and relied on her faith to keep fighting, led by the guiding principle that you had to fuck shit up, that no one was going to fuck it up for you, and that the world would get better because you fucked it up. And so much of what they both talked about hasn't changed or, perhaps, is moving backwards because we don't fuck shit up enough, to our eternal shame.