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Indybay Feature

"The Radical King" Edited by Cornel West Book Group

Saturday, March 09, 2019
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Event Type:
Resource Center for Nonviolence
Location Details:
Resource Center for Nonviolence, 612 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

The weekly sessions will take place on Saturdays until March 9th (possibly longer) at the Resource Center for Nonviolence 12:30pm-2:00pm. Come and learn about the true MLK!
For more event information:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a radical visionary. The FBI and US government called him “the most dangerous man in America”. He challenged the power structure, criticized policies and was unapologetic when it came to acknowledging injustice. He was a democratic socialist who sided with the poor, working-class people of the world. He was a warrior for peace on the domestic and global battlefield. He was critical of the military industrial complex and spoke out against the war in Vietnam when it was unpopular and dangerous to do so. At one point he claimed that the United States of America was (and some could argue still is) the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world”. We never hear about this King, the radical King.

Year after year; Instead of celebrating the true message of King, a message of resistance and liberation, events have been crafted to ignore and in some ways dismiss the oppression that appears all around us. The oppression, centuries old, that impacts the poor and people of color in the United States as well as around the world. Over generations, the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has become sanitized and white-washed, co-opted by the power structure and leaders who are more interested in exposure and PR than they are about actually committing themselves to King’s legacy. Regardless of their intention, an attempt to change the conversation from one of critical and radical resistance to one of community service and the rhetoric that we are all “equal” does us all a disservice and, in my opinion, is an insult to King’s memory.

Locally in Santa Cruz poverty is still a rampant plague. Inequitable levels of income and access to quality housing have forced children, the elderly and those with mental health needs out onto the streets in the dead of winter to fend for themselves. Our policies, like locking bathrooms and fencing parks, force people into situations that are unhealthy, spiritually draining and dehumanizing. We criminalize poverty as we actively exacerbate it with weak regulations on rent and evictions. Santa Cruz County has one of the highest rates of poverty in the State of California. Black (or African American) people only make up 1% of the City of Santa Cruz. Our Native American population is even smaller and currently resisting their lands being destroyed. We celebrate the Missions and omit the reality of the violence that took place. Is this what Dr. King would have celebrated? Would Dr. King have locked arms with his oppressors and walked in a parade with no set plan of action or end goal in sight? I say NO. Or, would he have stood firm and demanded justice before there was the option of reconciliation? I say YES.

On the day dedicated to his memory I believe he would be actively challenging the structure of oppression, not walking symbolically in a narrative devoid of impact. What liberation will be achieved for people of color and the poor, working-class people of our community? What will change? What will be accomplished besides providing a sense of complacency in the same people who fought against rent control, who fight against the protection of the poor, who don’t want homeless in their neighborhoods and for the SCPD who refuse to march without their weapons and who represent, to many, a symbol of oppression? If you are interested in learning more about the radical MLK, please join us for a book-group where we will read, analyze and discuss “The Radical King” by Cornel West.
Added to the calendar on Wed, Feb 20, 2019 7:01PM
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