Tavis Smiley has written a book Death of a King about the last year of Martin Luther King’s life where he discusses what I have been arguing for a long time, that King, in the five years after his “I have a dream” speech in 1963 and especially in the last year of life had a much darker view of America, highlighting America’s abuse of power abroad (and condemning the Vietnam war) and its class war at home against the poor, and its endemic racism. His message became much more powerful and because of that he became vilified and marginalized by whites at that time and is ignored now.
I am glad to see Smiley trying to retrieve that lost half-decade of King’s life and bring it to the forefront. It is better to watch the extended interview on The Daily Show but the shorter version is embedded below. In passing, I noted that although Smiley is religious, when saying things he was very careful to include nonbelievers when he thought that the issue might be construed religiously. This awareness of the fact that we are out there and numerous and need to be taken into account is a relatively new phenomenon.
(This clip aired on September 11, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)