The Stream

Has Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy been whitewashed?

Some activists are calling for a more radical retelling of the civil rights leader’s story.

Fifty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., how are social justice activists in the US remembering the iconic African-American civil rights leader?

Critics of King’s mainstream portrayal say his “dream” was more than just desegregation and voting rights for black Americans. King was a Baptist minister who supported democratic socialism and spoke out against US imperialism. Near the end of his life, he organised a “Poor People’s Campaign” for economic justice, yet alienated some progressive allies by publicly denouncing the Vietnam War.

In the decades since his death, has MLK’s history been whitewashed or co-opted? And how does King’s legacy influence the work of present-day activists? We’ll speak to those working to #ReclaimMLK history. Join the conversation at 1930GMT.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Jenn Jackson @JennMJack
Columnist, Teen Vogue

Russel Rickford @RickfordRussell
Professor of History, Cornell University

Rev. Osagyefo Sekou @RevSekou
Musician, activist, pastor, author

Drew Dellinger @drewdellinger

Read more:

Reclaim MLK: Beyond Sanitized Narratives – Truthout
It’s time to reclaim the true Martin Luther King – Washington Post