King Day activities will evoke struggle, fightback

Published Jan 10, 2007 12:10 AM

Over the Jan. 15 weekend, cities across the United States will be holding parades and marches to honor the life of civil-rights, labor and anti-war leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Each year, many of these events attempt to downplay King’s legacy of struggle, with anti-worker corporate sponsors and even military processions. However, the spirit of Dr. King lives on, and will be reflected in resistance events:


In Denver a rally will distinguish itself from the city’s official MLK “Marade,” which is sponsored by State Farm insurance and several other companies. Although these companies have huge advertising banners, the city tells the people to not bring banners and signs.

Speaking at the people’s rally will be Larry Hales, FIST leader and contributing editor of Workers World newspaper, on King’s legacy to the global struggle against oppression; Tizoc Martinez from the Mexican National Liberation Movement, on attacks against immigrant workers in Greeley, Colo.; and Loree McCormick-Rice, victim of police brutality, on police repression. Rock Em Sock Em, a youth-of-color spoken-word group, will perform. A feeder march with anti-war, anti-oppression banners and signs will then join the city’s march.

The call for a separate rally states:

“As the conditions of the society pit us against each other, they have also led us to the conclusion that our struggles are linked. The fight must be moved forward together. Therefore, activists from the Black, Mexican, Latin@, Asian and Arab communities have come together to move the age-old fight of liberation into the future—first, by reclaiming our history and using its lessons to shape our struggle; then, by once again taking hold of our future with the optimism and courage that will forever change the world. For neither history nor the future belongs to a book or a leader or a classroom, it belongs to the people. So, just as the people have reclaimed history today, so we will reclaim our future.

“In commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement of the sixties, we ask all people of color to stay true to the values of all our fallen heroes. Year after year the MLK Marade passes, reminding us all of the potential of people of color to change their conditions. Our histories speak repeatedly of those who challenged the roles defined for them by their oppressor, those who refused to become tools for the oppressor, and those who died for the liberation of humankind. In uniting with our oppressed brothers and sisters, in believing in the people’s power to effect change, we are applying the values taught to us by these histories.

“We are calling for a separate rally and feeder march organized and led by people from the communities above to build a united front against racism, oppression, occupation and war.”


The Detroit Martin Luther King Day “Freedom from the shackles of war, racism and poverty” March gathers at Central United Methodist Church, Woodward at Adams in downtown Detroit, at noon on Jan. 15. This year’s rally and march will place special emphasis on the struggle to end the war in Iraq and the rising tide of racism in the United States, especially in light of the affirmative action ban passed on Nov. 7. A sound car sponsored by Latinos Unidos/United of Michigan to build for the march got an enthusiastic response on Jan. 7; more than 1,000 bilingual leaflets were distributed in the Latin@ community.


In response to President Bush’s expected call for a troop “surge” in Iraq, the Troops Out Now Coalition in New York is calling for a united surge of antiwar forces to converge at Times Square on Jan. 15 at 4 p.m.

TONC leader Sara Flounders told WW: “On Dr. King’s birthday, TONC is working with antiwar forces around the country to launch a massive people’s offensive against the war, which will take us from the local battle fronts to Washington, D.C., this spring. Our central demands are the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all occupation troops from Iraq, and a cut off of all—not some, but all—funds for the war.”


In Raleigh, Black Workers for Justice and UE Local 150 will hold a Community Speakout and Action Planning on Jan. 13. Their announcement reads, “King stood with sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968! You, your co-workers, family & friends are invited to stand with workers in your community today!”

City workers will discuss their strike, building the union, fighting City Hall, the struggle for collective bargaining rights and building for a mass Feb. 10 NAACP march, which will deliver the organization’s 2007 14-point program to the legislature. This includes demands of “U.S. out of Iraq!” as well as repeal of N.C. General Statute 95-98, an anti-collective-bargaining rights law.

On Jan. 15, a March against War and Racism will be held in Chapel Hill.


The San Diego parade to honor the memory of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was, years ago, moved out of the Black community. For many San Diegans the ubiquitous presence of FBI, police, U.S. military and militarized student contingents has become increasingly offensive and intolerable.

In an effort to return the commemoration to the Black community and to restore the tone to one opposing war and racism, the San Diego International Action Center initiated a coalition, the King/Chavez Coalition for Justice and Unity, which will hold a community rally and picnic at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 6401 Skyline Avenue, on Jan. 15.

Coalition organizer Gloria Verdieu explained the purpose of the coalition is “to reclaim our legacy and cultural heritage in an effort to continue the advancement of social justice and unity.”

Uniting the names of two great leaders in the struggle for social justice, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez, is a defiant answer to Minutemen types active in Southern California, who, as part of their efforts to criminalize undocumented workers, seek to drive a wedge between Black and Latin@ communities.

Larry Hales, Larry Holmes, Cheryl LaBash, Bob McCubbin and Dante Strobino contributed to this report.

Articles (c) copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.


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