Black Lives Matter Chicago pens essay on reclaiming Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy

In honor of MLK Day, the Chicago branch of the Black Lives Matter organization wrote this new piece for The Root. The article compares BLM's contemporary fight for racial justice with the work of Martin Luther King Jr. It argues:

King died working on a Poor People's Campaign and demanding that a redistribution of wealth was necessary to eradicate poverty. Black Lives Matter Chicago echoes this demand and asserts that violence in Chicago will not end, but will only worsen, if continued divestment, unemployment and blight occur.

The solutions to addressing poverty are well-known.

We must implement the radical measures King died fighting for right now by demanding fully funded schools, health care, jobs, access to housing, free drug-treatment programs and food.

The fact that these demands are considered radical today are a testament to how little regard our political establishment prioritizes life and how little has changed since King's day, even since the nation has experienced its first black president.

For some time now, King's legacy on mainstream media has been bastardized, completely removed from his actual work. This gross misrepresentation of King is all about the sanitized "dream" devoid of reality.

It would have us sleep through police shootings, a monstrous legal system that unjustly and disproportionately eats up black communities, and a lack of quality educational and employment opportunities to dream of a better day of equality and brotherhood.

We see images of a smiling or thoughtful King, likely thinking of peace and looking crisp and clean in his suits, quite unlike today's protesters. We think of King and we hear freedom ringing on mountaintops and in valleys and ignore the cries of oppression even in the streets named after him.

We have conflated nonviolence with passivity, and we have forgotten that King's legacy is meeting incredible violence with masses in the street.

You can read the full article—which was written by Kofi Ademola Xola, Amika Tendaji, and Aislinn Pulley—on The Root. You can find more information on the Black Lives Matter website and Twitter account, and you can connect to the Chicago branch on its website and Twitter account as well. Both organizations are also currently accepting donations (BLM donations and BLM Chicago donations).

[photo: "Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking against the Vietnam War, St. Paul Campus, University of Minnesota, 27 April 1967," Creative Commons, Minnesota Historical Society]