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PORTSIDE  March 2011, Week 5

PORTSIDE March 2011, Week 5

Subject:

King, Obama and the Other April 4th

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Date:

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 10:41:17 -0400

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The African World

King, Obama and the Other April 4th

By Bill Fletcher, Jr. BlackCommentator.com Editorial
Board BC March 31, 2011

http://www.blackcommentator.com/420/420_cover_aw_king_obama_other_april_4th_printer_friendly.html

As April 4th approaches I cannot but think of the work
and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.  On April 4th
this year there will be the standard remembrances of
Dr. King on the 43rd anniversary of his assassination.
There will also be demonstrations taking place across
the country initiated by labor unions and their allies
to protest both the budget cuts that harm working
people and the assault on our rights carried out by the
hard-right Republicans.  Yet, I wonder how many people
will commemorate the other April 4th, that is, April 4,
1967 when King gave his famous Riverside Church speech
condemning US aggression in Vietnam? (Click here for
the full text and audio of the "Beyond Vietnam" speech
in this week's issue of BC).

The `other' April 4th is critical to remember as we
watch foreign policies advanced by the Obama
administration that would be an anathema to Dr. King.
The continued occupation of Iraq, the war in
Afghanistan, drone attacks and imperial interference in
Pakistan, complicity in the Israeli occupation of
Palestinian territories, silent support for the 2009
coup in Honduras, and now the US-led NATO military
strikes on Libya are policies that would be contrary to
everything for which Dr. King stood.

It was interesting to watch the bizarre Glenn Beck
rally at the Lincoln Memorial this past August 2010.
It turned my stomach to see the signs and pictures of
Dr. King used in the right-wing attacks on both the
Obama administration and progressive legislators.  Yet
the irony is that while it is inconceivable that Dr.
King would have attended Beck's rally, let alone spoken
in favor of their regressive program, King would almost
certainly have been highly critical of the Obama
administration.

It was King who asserted, much as did W.E.B. Dubois
years before, that it was the USA that was the greatest
purveyor of violence on the planet.  There has been
nothing in the last 44 years to suggest that this
conclusion is anything but accurate.  While the Obama
administration has gone out of its way to attempt to
change the image of the USA internationally, the
substance of the relationship has not shifted
qualitatively.  The hypocritical military strikes
against Libya in the name of averting a humanitarian
disaster while US-supported regimes in Yemen, Bahrain
and Saudi Arabia continue to repress their populations-
in some cases quite violently-destroys any notion of an
alleged continuity between that for which Dr. King
stood and the policies of President Obama.

While I feel nothing but contempt for Glenn Beck and
his minions, those of us on the left side of the aisle
must not let our hostility toward the political Right
restrain our criticisms of Obama administration
policies that flow, not from the legacy of Dr. King,
but from the imperatives of the US-led empire.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Bill
Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute
for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of
TransAfrica Forum and co-author of Solidarity Divided:
The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward
Social Justice (University of California Press), which
examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA.

(2)

Faith, Civil Rights Groups to Stand With Workers on
April 4

By James Parks
AFL-CIO Blog
March 29, 2011

http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/03/29/faith-civil-rights-groups-to-stand-with-workers-on-april-4/

Faith communities across the nation will stand
alongside working people, civil rights groups, students
and immigrants on the days around April 4 to tell hard-
working families under attack that "We Are One."

In a telephone press conference this afternoon,
prominent African American and evangelical faith
leaders joined with civil rights and labor leaders to
announce coordinated actions this weekend and on April
4 in support of working families.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker told
the reporters that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's power
grab reignited a huge movement of people standing up
for human dignity and human rights. Holt Baker, who
also is a member of the Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ)
national board, said:

    We're standing together to make our country better
    for all working people.  We honor Dr. King with our
    determination to stand up and build the future our
    children deserve. These attacks on the middle class
    aren't about the economy or the state budget.  It's
    about politics and payback.

IWJ has produced a set of resources for the We Are One
mobilization-prayers, sermons, a bulletin insert, and
pieces on what congregations, students, and worker
centers can do.

Rev. Nelson Rivers, vice president of the NAACP, said
the right-wing is engaged in a "gigantic effort to turn
the clock back."  He said the NAACP will hold a major
national event in Nashville, Tenn., April 4 featuring a
teach-in with three historically black colleges in that
city.

"We know that God is concerned about workers, who are
consistently vulnerable to exploitation if they aren't
protected. When workers are treated badly, that matters
to us, no matter what faith tradition we come from-
including the evangelical community," said Rev. Troy
Jackson, pastor of University Christian Church in
Cincinnati.

IWJ is coordinating with dozens of groups holding
prayer vigils in multiple locations across the country,
using the same prayer for workers (ahttp://
www.iwj.org/doc/April4-prayer.pdf) around the We Are
One faith events happening April 1-4 and into the
coming weeks.  Events include:

    A rally and candlelight vigil with Jewish, Muslim
    and Christian leaders and a choir at Denver City
    Park from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on April 4.

    An April 4 rally and press conference at the Martin
    Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King Memorial
    Plaza on the campus of the University of Maine.

    Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice will
    hold a theatrical reenactment of biblical passages
    around worker justice in San Diego on April 4.

    Detroit Interfaith Worker Justice will hold a
    prayer vigil in concert with labor union rallies on
    April 4.

You can also find out how to take action on April 4 [
http://www.we-r-1.org/ ]or write a message of
solidarity to workers at the "We Are One" Facebook
page.  Follow the action on Twitter with the hashtags
#statesSOS, #notmywi, #StandUpOH, #wiunion and get the
latest updates at www.aflcio.org/blog.

(3)

Dr. King was killed standing with workers

You probably know that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was
assassinated 43 years ago in Memphis, Tennessee. But
you might not know that Dr. King was in Memphis on
April 4, 1968, to support the collective bargaining
rights of sanitation workers.

Workers in Wisconsin and around the U.S. are now waging
that same battle for their rights, and people across
the nation are marking the anniversary of Dr. King's
death with a massive day of protest. Practically the
entire progressive movement has joined in.

Will YOU join us too? Just click here to learn more and
find an event near you.

In Wisconsin, Maine, Michigan and dozens of other
states, right-wing politicians are working with Wall
Street donors to cut pay and benefits and maximize
profit. We need to stand together, just like Dr. King
stood with workers, so we can protect the middle class.

This April 4, 2011, the We Are One coalition will unite
the biggest labor unions and progressive groups in
America for a day of protest and action that would have
made Dr. King proud. Our actions together might become
one of the most significant days of action in years.
But we need you to join in. Click the link below to
find an event near you.

http://local.we-r-1.org/partners/USAction

Will you join us?

Drew Hudson, USAction / TrueMajority

___________________________________________

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