Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy isn’t like a stone statue with fixed significance and predictable contours — it takes on different meanings depending on the American cultural climate at a given moment.

This year’s observations of Martin Luther King Day around the country carried the charge of galvanizing events in the latter half of 2014, with the police-related deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island in July and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August figuring prominently in many commemorations. And as The Christian Science Monitor noted Monday, some of the day’s activities were organized with the help of the hashtag #ReclaimMLK:

This Martin Luther King Day, protesters around the country are amplifying the hallowed echoes of King’s words as part of a loosely connected string of #ReclaimMLK demonstrations protesting police violence and inequality.

The high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of police in Ferguson, Mo.; New York; and elsewhere have ignited this new generation of demonstrators. While some protests have resulted in violence and looting, the majority of demonstrations across America have drawn from Dr. King’s playbook of nonviolent resistance, with protesters seeking peaceful means to convey their anger at what they say is a culture of aggressive and violent policing of minority communities.

[…] In Minnesota, 2,800 people signed up to attend a #ReclaimMLK march Monday in the wake of the fatal shooting of Marcus Golden by St. Paul police officers Wednesday. Police say that Mr. Golden drove his vehicle at the officers and left them “fearing for their lives.” Golden reportedly had a handgun within reach, but it remains unclear whether he had fired on the officers.

Calls to action, announcements about marches and MLK Day activities and messages of support from around the world were being shared throughout the day on the #ReclaimMLK Twitter feed.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson


If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.