The Other Martin Luther King, Jr

Every year the media enshrines Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and always conveniently forgets the last several years of his life where he moved from race relations to class structure and poverty.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation’s fundamental priorities. Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 — a year to the day before he was murdered — King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”