Dr Martin Luther King – On Poverty and War

Despite the huge opposition that Martin Luther King encountered when standing up for civil rights, that battle has been largely won. Most people accept that all races have a right to equality. I am not saying that we have achieved that. There is still much to be achieved. But it is largely accepted. Few people now support the racist segregationists and white supremacy nutcases. The KKK and Nazi groups are small minorities who are generally regarded as morally abhorrent by most white people.

Yet Dr Martin Luther King did not stop there. He was moving further. He spoke controversially about the role poverty plays in preventing people of all colour reaching their potential. That poverty is the application of choice. We choose to organise our societies to create extreme wealth and mass poverty. It does not have to be that way.

He also opposed the war in Vietnam and accused America as being a purveyor of mass violence around the world.

He related both poverty and the waging of war to that of equal rights.

A society gone mad on war cannot invest in alleviating poverty.

He pointed out that the USA (back in the 60s) spends $500,000 to kill each enemy soldier but only $53 on each person classified as poor! War is the enemy of the poor.

Perhaps instead of just listening to his wonderful speeches on civil rights we should also listen to his astute words on the our terrible enemies – poverty and war!

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Heroes of our age – Martin Luther King – We’re all equal; all one species.

Heroes of our age – Martin Luther King – We’re all equal; all one species.

martin luther king

As short a time ago as the 1960s segregation held sway in the United States. Whites were considered superior and supremacist groups, such as the Klu Klux Klan, were widely supported. They might have been forced to do away with slavery through losing the Civil War but the notion still prevailed – They viewed the Black Race as inferior and were determined to keep them down. The idea of equality was repugnant. It is a Racist ideology that persists to this day and results in the situations that are occurring in US cities where black lives are considered cheap and blacks are being shot by police.

We’ve still got a way to go.

In the 1960s segregation was apartheid. Blacks had different buses, water taps, cinemas, music, housing and even concerts were segregated. To be black was to be second class. They were actively prevented from voting.

Martin Luther King was a Baptist Minister and Humanitarian. Born in 1929 he lead the Civil Rights Movement (SCLC) and fought for equal rights and the vote. He fought for desegregation – the rights for schools, jobs, transport and utilities to be shared by all. He inspired mass protest and based his tactics on those of Mahatma Ghandi.

There were sit-ins, marches, bus boycotts and protest. Protestors were beaten up, murdered, harassed, threatened, abused and arrested. They remained non-violent and defiant.

In 1963 Martin Luther King called for a march on Washington. A million white and black people, side by side, marched on the Capital and were roused by the incredible oratory of Martin’s as he delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

He was an incredibly brave man. The FBI and CIA did their best to discredit him. He received death threats. On the march between Selma and Montgomery in 1964 he was expecting a bullet with every step. He marched regardless.

He was condemned by black radicals such as Malcolm X of ‘The Nation of Islam’ and members of the Black Panthers for being non-violent. They believed the only way to get equality was to fight for it and demand it. They were wrong.

Martin Luther King diversified his protest to fight for an end to poverty and to oppose the Vietnam War. He saw it all part of the same struggle.

In 1968 he was assassinated. A cowardly sniper shot him on his balcony at the motel he was staying in in Memphis.

I visited that balcony, stood on that spot and was grateful that we had people as brave, fearless, intelligent and outspoken. Without such people we would be oppressed and still in the Dark Ages. They gave us light and hope for a world of real equality.

Where are our leaders now?

Martin Luther King Quotes.

Martin Luther King was an inspiring man. I have the utmost respect for someone who is prepared to stand up to injustice regardless of the danger to himself and someone who rejects violence as a way of solving problems. He was an intelligent man with a vision of a better world that was worth striving for.

I think his dream is becoming a reality. The sooner we rid the world of racism and tribalism the better.

‘There comes a time when silence is betrayal.’

If the silent majority raise their voices and demand that freedom and fairness apply, that nature needs protecting and there should be an end to war and poverty then it would be done.

 ‘A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.’

If you do not have ideals that you are prepared to stand up for then your life counts for little – it is empty and shallow. Who wants such a superficial existence?

 ‘Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.’

Hate leads to violence and violence is usually the worst thing you can do. It is rarely justified.

  ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’

It is no good waiting for a better time to come along. Now is all we have.

 ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

Whether that be to plants and animals, people or the planet itself. The selfish and greedy want it all for themselves and do not care about the outcomes of their actions.

  ‘We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.’

Anger can be a motivator but not when it results in violence.

 ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’

Our strength and purpose comes from what we are prepared to strive for. If it is merely wealth, status and comfort then we are not really living to the full.

 ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’

I’ve found that so often. When things go bad it is then you find out wh your real friends are.

 ‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.’

Why is it that human beings put so much stock in faith? They show a propensity to believe in anything that people tell them. They follow religion and superstition without the slightest shred of evidence. It is hardwired into our brains.

  ‘We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.’

If we unite we are strong. If we stay silent and keep our heads down the strong, wealthy and powerful bulldozer over our rights and the whole planet.

 ‘We want all of our rights, we want them here, and we want them now.’

NOW!!!

‘Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.’

I’m all for forgiveness.

  ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.’

Keep fighting for that goal of a planet and its people, animals and plants that are treated with respect.

 ‘Only in the darkness can you see the stars.’

Never give up hope or the struggle.

  ‘Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.’

Education is the answer to most things.

‘No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.’

You have to have a philosophy worth fighting for.

 ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

The selfish, greedy culture is predominating. It has to be reversed. People are happiest sharing.

 ‘I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.’

Hate is acid.

‘No person has the right to rain on your dreams.’

The trolls and pessimists need to shut the fuck up!!

 ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.’

What a great sentiment to end on. We’d all do well to remember that whenever there is a knee-jerk call to bomb, kill and destroy. Rarely is violence justified.

Heroes of our age – Martin Luther King – We’re all equal; all one species.

an inspiration.

Opher's World

martin luther king

As short a time ago as the 1960s segregation held sway in the United States. Whites were considered superior and supremacist groups, such as the Klu Klux Klan, were widely supported. They might have been forced to do away with slavery through losing the Civil War but the notion still prevailed – They viewed the Black Race as inferior and were determined to keep them down. The idea of equality was repugnant. It is a Racist ideology that persists to this day and results in the situations that are occurring in US cities where black lives are considered cheap and blacks are being shot by police.

We’ve still got a way to go.

In the 1960s segregation was apartheid. Blacks had different buses, water taps, cinemas, music, housing and even concerts were segregated. To be black was to be second class. They were actively prevented from voting.

Martin Luther King was…

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Photography – Martin Luther King – assassination in Memphis

On April 4th 1968 a sniper shot Martin Luther King while he was standing on the balcony outside his room in the Motel he was staying in.

He had gone to Memphis to support striking sanitation workers. White workers received pay if conditions were poor but black workers did not. Consequently black workers were forced to labour in blizzards and other terrible conditions which had resulted in deaths.

Martin Luther King stood for equality in the face of hostility and death threats. He suffered abuse, physical attacks and lies from the media. It did not deter him. He was a brave man.

The white supremacists had assassinated many civil rights leaders and supporters. They still, in 1968, wanted segregation and viewed black people as inferior.

It takes a determined man to stand up in the face of death threats that you know have a foundation.

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This is the building that the sniper was in. The shot that killed Martin Luther King came from here.

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Behind the wreath if the balcony on which he was shot. His room can be seen behind that.

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The Lorraine Motel has been turned into a museum/shrine for Martin Luther King. The room has been left as it was. Even the ashtrays. The cars are parked outside as they were on that night.

We have come a long way in our quest for equality. We still have a long way to go.

It is a journey best taken in love and friendship.

Quote 18 – Martin Luther King – Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’

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Well everyone knows his great speech in Washington. But that wasn’t all he was.

He was someone who embraced people of all races, opposed the war in Vietnam and fought for justice.

We need more charismatic leaders like Martin Luther King.

These are my six books of poetry. They are available as paperback or on Kindle from Amazon – all for under £5 for a paperback. You could buy the whole lot for just £27.62!!

They are not conventional poetry books. They are like you find on my blog with a page of explanatory prose followed by the poem. The prose is as important as the poem to me.

 

Codas, Cadence and Clues – £4.97

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Stanzas and Stances – £5.59

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Poems and Peons – £4.33

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Vice and Verse – £4.15

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Science Fiction books:

 

Ebola in the Garden of Eden – paperback £6.95 Kindle £2.56 (or free on unlimited)

 

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Green – paperback £9.98 Kindle £2.56 (or free on unlimited)

 

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Rock Music books

 

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Other selected books and novels:

 

Anecdotes-Weird-Science-Writing-Ramblings – a book of anecdotes mainly from the sixties and other writing.

 

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More Anecdotes – following the immense popularity of the first volume I produced a second

 

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Goofin’ with the cosmic freaks – a kind of On the Road for the sixties

 

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The book of Ginny – a novel

 

 

In Britain :

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In America:

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In all other countries around the world check out your regional Amazon site and Opher Goodwin books.

 

Civil Rights – The murder of Medgar Evers.

 

Medgar Evers was a Civil Rights leader in Mississippi. He campaigned for desegregation. He was involved with the desegregation of schools and colleges, desegregation of beaches, restrooms and organised boycotts. His high profile activities and leadership role made him a target for the white supremacists. They threatened to kill him if he did not stop.

 

Medgar, like so many of those Civil Rights Activists, was a brave man. He knew these were no idle threats and that if he continued to fight for freedom and justice he would most likely be murdered. It did not deter him.

 

He continued even after a car came close to running him down outside his house and a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of his house. He did not stop despite the risks to himself and his young family. Freedom was worth dying for.

 

Back in Mississippi the life of a black man was cheap. There was no protection from the law. People were beaten, shot and lynched with impunity. The Kl Klux Klan were rife and many of the police and judges were in the organisation. There was no protection. The black community was terrorised.

 

How many people would have the courage to continue in the face of such threats? Knowing that in the dead of night a callous murdered could set fire to your house or shoot you in your bed and there was no police to help you?

 

Medgar Evers did not flinch.

 

On June the 12th 1963, as he was getting out of his car in the drive of his house, Medgar Evers was shot in the back.

 

The coward white supremacist Byron Del La Beckwith, a member of the Klu Klux Klan, had hidden in the bushes and shot him in the back.

 

Many people wrote tributes and songs to Medgar Evers – the most important being Bob Dylan’s – ‘Only a Pawn in their Game’ – which suggested that Byron was a pawn being used by the senior faceless supremacists who were terrorising people for their own ends.

 

Freedom has been bought with blood! It is always hard to gain and easy to give away!

Martin Luther King – ‘I Have a Dream’ – the greatest oratory of all time. Equality and freedom – a vision for the future.

martin lutherThis was the March on Washington when a million white and black people joined hands and demanded equality.

The establishment was racist; the people were united against it. They demanded action. White and black stood together as equals. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez sang. Martin Luther King delivered the most important speech of modern times.

It was a speech that centred on the injustices but did not invoke hatred. Instead it focussed on a vision for a future in which both black and white would prosper together as equals and be mutually benefitted. It was a world in which racism was seen as the evil it was.

That is the future I want and fight for.

Martin Luther King knew exactly what he was doing; he was putting his life on the line. He knew he would be killed for his eloquent words, passion and hope for the future. It did not deter him. He spoke his mind and the content of his heart.

Without him we would not have the world we have today. There is still racism, poverty and war but there is also a huge improvement, a voice and a hope. It shines. Racism, ignorance, poverty and war will be conquered by non-violent protest.

The creationists, fundamentalists, ISIS, racists, elitists and those who create war, injustice and poverty will be defeated by intelligence, wisdom and love.

Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech August 28 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?”

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our chlidren are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.”

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

 

My ten favourite heroes! – This one made me think a lot! It could go a number of ways!

Every man needs a hero to inspire him to do wonderful things and try to be a better person. Here are some of mine:

a. Woody Guthrie.

This was a man who was prepared to stand up for what he believed in – justice, equality and freedom. He was prepared to be there on the picket lines and take the blows. He wanted a strong union to fight for fairness of pay and conditions. He believed you fought fascism by educating people.

b. Charles Darwin

As a Biologist he looked around the world at the variety of life and realised that the religious explanation did not hold true. He used his intellect to work out what was really happening and painstakingly set out researching to test his theory. When he was sure he published despite the furore it caused for him. He set us on the road to freedom from religious oppression.

c. Martin Luther King

He believed all races were equal and died for his beliefs. He marched in the face of violence and death threats. He stood up to the racists and used his words as bullets. They took his life but he proved he was the better man.

d. Jane Goodall

Jane has spent her life working with Chimps and championing their rights. She has been tireless and faced hardships and threats. Thank heavens someone is prepared to speak out and stand up for them. They are being butchered!

e. Jack Kerouac

Jack was, like most of us, an extremely complicated and muddled man who fought his demons of alcohol and catholic indoctrination. On the Road is a book that changed the world. There had never been anything like it before. In writing it he questioned the whole premise of the establishment whose mantra was – work hard, buy and own. He suggested that experience, quest, kicks and sex might be more rewarding. I forgive his misogyny. Nobody’s perfect.

f. Emily Pankhurst

How could you not admire a woman who was prepared to go to prison and be force-fed, who stood up and spoke the truth, who fought for equality and democracy? She organised and fought for women’s rights! She took on the whole establishment and won!

g. Bob Dylan

Without Dylan I do not believe we would have the liberal society we now enjoy. In the early sixties he stood up and sang his songs about civil rights, freedom, anti-war and justice and raised the sensibilities of a whole generation.

h. Mahatma Ghandi

Ghandi was the soul of India. He showed that if you had a just cause you could stand up against authority and use Non-violent Direct Action to defeat them. Nothing has ever been the same. I think partition broke his heart.

I. Ann Frank

Via those diaries Ann showed the resolution and defiance that destroyed Nazi philosophy.

j. Roy Harper

When I first heard Roy sing and speak I felt it was like looking in a mirror. He was putting in words the feelings and thoughts that what buzzing round my head and letting me examine them more closely.

k. Ken Saro-Wiwa

Ken was a writer, poet and environmentalist who stood up against the Nigerian government and exposed their corruption. They were despoiling the environment, selling land to the oil companies without restriction. He campaigned and was threatened. He carried on. They hung him with piano wire.

l. Rachel Carson

She wrote Silent Spring and started the whole environmental movement.

m. David McTaggart

One of the founders of Greenpeace. He used Non-violent Direct Action to fight for the environment. He sailed his little boat around a nuclear bomb holding up a French atmospheric test the like of which was causing huge pollution. He put his life at risk. They rammed him, beat him up and he went back and did it again.

My heroes are men and women who fought for peace, justice, the environment, freedom and equality. They inspire me to do the same in my own little way.

I’d have another list tomorrow!