(On this day in which we remember Dr. King, I thought I would repost something that I wrote last year.)
It is good on a day like this to recognize the importance of resurrecting an essential aspect of the message that Dr. King sought to convey. It is clear that there is a need to remove the layers of gauze that have covered his legacy and blurred the increasingly hard edged vision that characterized the last years of his life.
Most people focus primarily on his “I have a dream speech” given at the March on Washington in 1963. It is important to realize that he did not retire after that oratorical triumph but went on to speak and act in ways that were often different from his pre-1963 positions. His new emphasis on a class-based analysis of American society, his drive to unite the problems of black people with poor and working class white people, coupled with his opposition to the war in Vietnam, were a radical departure from a purely race-based civil rights struggle, cost him some support and alienated some former allies, and are what some believe precipitated his assassination.