Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was on January 15th and it is always a good time to remember the revolutionary acts he was involved in and the sacrifices he gave to the cause. Today MLK is celebrated throughout mainstream America and has almost become another generic holiday complete with “MLK Weekend Blow-Out Sales.” America has accepted King into the mainstream and has focused heavily on his non-violent tactics and ideologies. What often goes unmentioned, sadly, is the extension of King’s views to American foreign policy, mainly the Vietnam War.
First off, MLK was not always considered a great American hero in the eyes of the mainstream and especially the US government. He was a main target of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and COINTELPRO and was harassed, arrested, and beaten by police on several occasions. It took 20 years of fighting to get his birthday recognized as a sort of “token” holiday and still not all of the states and politicians voted for it. Second, the truth is that, most likely, it was the US government who had Martin Luther King assassinated in one way or another. Many believe it was crossing the boundary from the Civil Rights Movement to focusing on Anti-War and Anti-Poverty issues that sealed his fate. In 1967, a year before his death, he gave a speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence” where he states that the United States “occupy the country as an American colony” and calls the U.S. government “the largest provider of violence in the world today.” Dr. King also stresses that the country needs a big moral change: “A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, ‘This is not just.’”
Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., study his actions, his words, and his life and celebrate him for the right reasons!
Like Martin Luther King, Newton fought in the struggle for Black Liberation. At Merritt College in Oakland, Newton met Bobby Seale and in 1966 they formed the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense to protect local communities from police brutality and racism, and also ran medical clinics and provided free food to school children. Also like King, the activities of the Panthers came to the attention of the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover, who described the Panthers as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and in November 1968 ordered the FBI to employ “hard-hitting counter-intelligence measures to cripple the Black Panthers”. Harassed by the police, members became involved in several shoot-outs. This included an exchange of fire between Panthers and the police at Oakland on 28th October, 1967. Newton was wounded and while in hospital was charged with killing a police officer. The following year he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
Newton published his book, Revolutionary Suicide in 1973. The following year he was arrested and charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Released on bail, Newton fled to Cuba but in 1977 he returned to the United States and was freed after two hung juries. Newton returned to his studies at the University of California and in 1980 he received a Ph.D. in social philosophy. His dissertation was entitled War Against the Panthers: A Study in Repression in America. Huey Newton was shot dead on 22nd August, 1989, while walking along a street in Oakland.