Honoring Dr. King’s legacy: Speak out against racism, poverty and World War III

Speak out in Harlem, New York, Jan. 13. SLL photos: Melinda Butterfield

A standing-room-only crowd packed St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem, New York, for a “speak out to stop racism, poverty and World War III.” The event honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy on the weekend of the King Day holiday. (Watch the full stream at https://youtu.be/XAouhEvgGZI)

“We have gathered this weekend to revive the fighting legacy of Dr. King, who laid his life down to fight racism, poverty, and yes, war too, especially U.S. imperialism,” said Joyce Butler of the Peoples Power Assembly, who chaired the event along with Ellie McCrow of Pratt Workers United.

Rev. Annie Chambers, the National Welfare Rights Union co-chair, public housing advocate, and founding member of the Peoples Power Assembly, said: “What really threatened Dr. King was when he spoke out against the Vietnam War and the big money for war. That’s what got Dr. King killed.”

Melinda Butterfield, Struggle-La Lucha co-editor and author of “U.S. Proxy War in Ukraine and Donbass,” said, “Building a true anti-war movement here starts with poor and working people recognizing that it is not in our interests – that the $113 billion spent on the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine last year alone is money stolen from our pockets, money that’s desperately needed to address the crises of inflation, homelessness, poverty, lack of health care and climate catastrophe.” (Read the full talk at this link.)

Margaret Kimberley, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, held up a banner declaring “NATO = White Supremacy.” Kimberley opened: “That’s our message from the Black Alliance for Peace. We are talking about fighting white supremacy. We are talking about the whole system, from the Congress and the president to the Pentagon.” 

David Clennon, an actor and activist, said: “Mendacity. For me, the big story of 2022 was not the war in Ukraine; the big story was this overpowering, overwhelming  tide of official mendacity about the war and that mendacity was faithfully conveyed and amplified by the corporate mass media.”

Omowale Clay of the December 12th Movement said: “Reparations have to be an integral part of the struggle. Black people have the right to reparations. We have to fight for it. Our position is that reparations is a revolutionary question because this imperial country is never going to give reparations.”

John Parker, who traveled to Donbass as part of a fact-finding trip to bust the big business media lies, is the founder of the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice in Los Angeles and a national organizer for the Socialist Unity Party. Parker said: “When some people say that Ukraine’s Nazi problem is ‘minor,’ they callously ignore the 10 Black people killed at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York, by an 18-year-old white supremacist. He was wearing the emblem of the Azov Battalion – the same sonnenrad I saw on the wall in Krymskoye.” (Read the full talk at this link.)

Richie Merino, from the United National Antiwar Coalition and the Bronx Antiwar Coalition, noted: “When it comes to criticisms of the dissemination of imperialist propaganda, many anti-imperialist activists focus on propaganda campaigns waged by corporate media. Rightfully so. But as an anti-imperialist public school teacher in the South Bronx, I want to draw your attention to the U.S. education system as a tool of imperialism.”

Jessica Schwarz, from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, said, “It is of utmost importance to not just support the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but to continue his struggle in our movements today.”

Michela Martinazzi, co-chair of the International League for the Peoples Struggle (ILPS) – U.S. Chapter, said, “There is nothing as strong or as powerful as people uniting against the many-headed beast that is imperialism on a global scale.”

Statements were read from Alexey Albu, a coordinator of the Ukrainian Marxist movement Borotba (Struggle), and Berta Joubert-Ceci from Women in Struggle/Mujeres En Lucha.

A representative of the “The Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa!” Defense Campaign spoke about the FBI’s attack on the movement and invited everyone to join the campaign at handsoffuhuru.org.

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