Labor editor for Socialist Worker Lee Sustar describes how civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. became an “avowed socialist” near the end of his life, as divisions formed between him and his allies:

“Attacked from both left and right” in 1967 for denouncing the Vietnam war and refusing to endorse the self-defense tactics of the more radical black nationalists, “King was forced to rethink his career and the organization he led, the SCLC. ‘We must admit there was a limitation of our achievement in the South,’ he told a meeting of the SCLC board in 1967. SCLC would have to call for a ‘radical redistribution of wealth and power.’ On several occasions, King told his aides that the US needed a democratic socialism that would guarantee jobs and income for all.

“… it wasn’t long after his death that the media hacks of the ruling class began to convert King into a harmless saint.

“To do this, however, they had to bury the real legacy of Martin Luther King — both the leader of the critical early struggles of the civil rights movement who refused to accept pleas for patience and moderation from his liberal Democratic allies, and the more radical black leader of the late 1960s whose vision of what needed to be changed in society had widened enormously.”

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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