The life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. looms large in our nation. As we approach the 50th anniversary of his landmark speech at the March on Washington, surely, books, documentaries, and other wares will extoll the virtue of this great man. The risk and violence of the era in which he served our democracy will be lost in that revisionist hysteria concerning our national love for Dr. King. For over a decade he lived under death threat, was wiretapped by the FBI, and vilified by the media and other African American leaders. When pushed by a deep sense of calling, King broke his silence and spoke out against the war on the precious people of Vietnam. And every major newspaper in the country attacked him. Time Magazine characterized his ‘A Time to Break the Silence’ speech as “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi,” while the Washington Post proclaimed that King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”
In this issue, Dr. King’s anti-war stance and Poor People’s Campaign is highlighted and his prophesy acknowledged. At home and aboard, activists have taken to the street to fight tyranny and austerity alike. Inevitably, King’s words and image appeared in Tahir Square and Zuccotti Park. During a recent march in Nabi Saleh village in Palestine, children carried signs that quoted Dr. King. One sign read: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. They held up it up as they marched to get water for their village, only to be rebuffed by tear gas, rubber bullets, and at least one live round. Yet they stood holding another one of King’s admonishments: “If a man has not found something he is willing to die for, then he is not fit to live.” With the passing of the years and growing inequality at home, King’s words are more and more relevant. To this end we salute Boston area activists, young and old, who have committed their lives to continue the work of Dr. King.