The 1963 March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom is historic for its 250,000 gathered in alliance for civil rights and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's famous I Have A Dream speech. The civil rights movement remains one of the most influential movements in American history. MLK's legacy of protests and nonviolent marches towards justice remains a blueprint for activists today, and who better to speak on its inspiration than this week's guest, Martin Luther King III.
MLK III is a global human rights leader and advocate and the oldest son of Dr. King Jr and Coretta Scott King. In this episode of Radical Ones, he sits down with Xander to discuss the many causes he's passionate about and his mission to continue to inspire activists with his parents' nonviolent approaches and communicative methods towards social justice and eradicate the 'Triple Evils.'
King explains what his father identified as the three major components or the "evils." Holding back equality is poverty, racism, and violence that he works to resolve through his organization, The Drum Major Institute. "My father founded it 60 years ago.", says King, "The purpose of that organization at the time was just to focus on raising money to bail people out of jail."
In the 1990s, he and his co-founder's, turned the organization into a New York City think tank, tackling Stop and Frisk. "When we talk about eradicating the triple evils, it's through Drum Major and a huge coalition, and we believe the values of peace, justice, and equality create the prospect to address these triple evils."
King explains misconceptions surrounding poverty: it is a tolerable 45 million, but in reality, it's over 100 million people. He says, "There's a huge issue in this nation with a multi-trillion dollar economy, and yet we are focused only on the rich getting rich and not figuring out; how do we redistribute the wealth and resources so that every family can take care of themselves."
King points to how racism aids poverty and inequality seen through what he refers to as "European Cultural Supremacy." He points to the conspiracy-driven separatist goals of politician Marjorie Taylor Green as an example. "It's a modified method of elevating what the Klan was trying to do in some sense.", says King. However, he clarifies that it's a global issue as seen within the Brexit debates, Italy and Paris's nationalism, and Brazil's oppression of Afro-Brazillion citizens despite a population of 60 million.
King still believes his father's approaches are most effective today. "Non-violence teaches you to address not the individual, but the issue." Finding common ground across lines helps us reach justice. He cites the example of his father marching with sanitation workers in 1968 with signs reading 'I am a Man.' "
"50 plus years later, there are still black folks walking, but their signs are saying, 'Black Lives Matter,' and some still don't understand."
King believes that the youth is imperative to the movement. "A child does not come into the world racist.", he says. Instead, he believes young people should be educated and exposed to human relations, sensitivity, and diversity. The way to begin is by following six steps that King lists as; information gathering, personal commitment, education, negotiation, direct action such as marches, "and then the sixth step is reconciliation," says King, "bring the community back together."
He stressed that while protests today are essential, he urges that young people go through the steps when possible. Still, he's optimistic about what the younger generations are doing with movements like BLM, March For Our Lives, and #MeToo. "I'm excited about activism and really among young people." He hopes to continue this perseverance with gun legislation and to fight voter suppression. "We go around the world talking about; 'We're a democracy and yet we're suppressing democracy at home, that is crazy," says King.
King continues to use his platform to share and train the theory of agape, a sense of unselfish love, to society. He tells us, "We have to intentionally move out of our comfort zone; we can't just always preach to the choir...Dad used to say, 'We must learn non-violence, or we may face nonexistence."
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Visit the Drum Major Institute website
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