Today, King is largely remembered with special holiday sales. His vision of radical revolution muted. He posed a special threat to the power structure. It was one thing to demand desegregation of lunch counters and quite another when in his Beyond Vietnam speech he called for: “a radical redistribution of economic and political power . . . a revolution of values . . . We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together. . . The whole structure of American life must be changed.” Those words in 1967 resonate today. The dream of revolution, of creating a society based on equality and justice lives on.
Robin Kelley, professor of history at UCLA is an award-winning author. Among his many books are Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class, Yo’ Mama’s DisFunktional, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original and Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times.