Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Resurrection And The Light-The 50th Anniversary Revival Of Doctor King’s Poor People’s Campaign-Join Us, Join The Struggle Against Poverty-Join The Resistance

The Resurrection And The Light-The 50th Anniversary Revival Of Doctor King’s Poor People’s Campaign-Join Us, Join The Struggle Against Poverty-Join The Resistance  

By Leslie Dumont

Doctor Martin Luther King was personally a brave man. Brave in that understated way that young women like myself could admire and follow if it came down to that as it had down in hell-hole Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, all those places where the anguished cries for justice could be heard. Bravely withstood jails, beatings and blood.   

I was a young girl actually since I was only twelve when the whirlwind of 1968 hit my home in Cambridge, North Cambridge like a storm (although social and cultural movement like the folk and poetry music period of the early 1960s, the bulk of the black civil rights struggle as it headed north, the draft resistance and anti-Vietnam War protests which were a daily occurrence happening right down the street in Harvard Square). The Tet offensive in Vietnam by the North Vietnamese which meant that the war there was far from over and that I had a sneaking suspicion filtered down by my father that America was on the short end of the stick as far was winning went. Doctor King’s death which left his last great project The Poor People’s Campaign the revival of which I am introducing here. Ruthless, idealistic beautiful Robert Kennedy dead as well so that the hopes for a “newer world” he kept touting would be stalled, continue to be stalled. The disaster of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, a bloodbath that I wept tears for a long time. All too much for a twelve year old girl to understand, to take in. Still hard fifty years later when 2018 places all those events before the still-divided, cold civil war divided, country again.             

The war, the Vietnam War, Sam Lowell keeps telling me we have to reference which war for the younger crowd to distinguish that war from the myriad others the American government has pursued or purchased proxies for since then, took the stuffing out of a lot of other social movements, other points on the national social agency. That stuffing being pulled including the War on Poverty that then President thought might be his legacy but which went to ground in the rice fields and highlands of Vietnam. Like I say I was too young to appreciate all of that, of the lost. But I still kept thinking and reading about it, about how to reduce the poverty around that was not doing anybody any good. My father, my late father, was deeply concerned about the poverty issue especially the white Appalachian Mountains poverty from whence he came. He had this book, this The Other America by Michael Harrington which dealt with just that neglected (and still neglected) rural poverty, in his library which I asked him about after I read it.  He told me some stories about his growing up dirt poor with nothing to hang onto but some bastardized dream of getting the hell out of there one way or another.

So I was very disappointed, very concerned when the first Poor People’s Campaign, the Resurrection City campaign down in Washington produced nothing, or not enough to banish poverty from this great over abundant country. And now in some truly ironic twist of silly fate there is a movement, a recent movement, afloat to go back to the ideas presented in Doctor King’s dream of eradicating poverty. The damnation is that in the 2018 as in 1968 the poor are still with us and still need champions working like seven dervishes to get the story back on the public agenda. Good luck to you, good luck to me too since unlike that twelve and too young to fathom the whole thing I am ready to roll now.



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