1. 1. I want to say some things about Dr. King. Today marks 49 years since he was assassinated in Memphis.
  2. 2. He's our secular saint, claimed by nearly everyone, but whose words against racism, materialism, and militarism remain largely ignored.
  3. 3. Conservatives can't hear anything but his glorious "I Have a Dream" peroration at the March on Washington for "JOBS and Freedom."
  4. 4. Those marchers came “to cash a check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”
  5. 5. It was more than metaphor: "the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity."
  6. 6. 'Jobs & Freedom' were linked. As he said elsewhere, “our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality.”
  7. 7. How are we to get this equality? Moral suasion? It's important. But King argued that we must be able to speak also the language of power.
  8. 8. On 8/8/67, he delivered a speech to the SCLC Convention, "Where Do We Go From Here?" that lays out his understanding of power.
  9. 9. I'm going to quote at length from it, but you can find the whole speech on the King Institute's website:  http://ln.is/stanford.edu/h7OwW 
  10. 10. Plantation & ghetto "were created by those who had power, both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessness."
  11. 11. "Now the problem of transforming the ghetto, therefore, is a problem of power, a confrontation" between opposing "forces of power."
  12. 12. "[P]ower...is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose .. the strength required to bring about social, political, & economic change."
  13. 13. He quotes Walter Ruether: "Power is the ability of a labor union...to make ...General Motors, say, 'Yes' when it wants to say 'No.'"
  14. 14. Does this seem unlike King, the American Ghandi? Wasn't he merely trying to change people's hearts and minds? No.
  15. 15. "[O]ne of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites..."
  16. 16. To achieve a moral vision of justice, both power and love are required. We must speak truth to power; but we must also wield power.
  17. 17. Or, as King put it, "power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic."
  18. 18. Inequality was perpetuated by "white Americans [who] seek their goals through power devoid of love and conscience."
  19. 19. But it could not be overturned by "Negro Americans...[who] seek their goals through love and moral suasion devoid of power."
  20. 20. King described the strategic crisis faced by black Americans as the "collision of immoral power with powerless morality..."
  21. 21. "[N]o one can deny that the Negro is in dire need of this kind of legitimate power." This was true in 1967. It remains true today.
  22. 22. We must not retreat from power but instead dedicate ourselves to building power to defeat what King called "economic racism."