If we are to truly honor Martin Luther King’s legacy, we must do more than pay lip service to his life and the cause for which he died. Rather, like King, we must put aside our complacency and speak out against the evils of our time. King risked his life to champion the causes of the oppressed and pressed on to the end when all seemed to be against him. If there is to be any real and lasting hope that things will turn around in America, we must do the same.
King understood that the government is a bloated, lazy beast that is extremely reluctant to move in any positive way that benefits the people. Thus, the way you impact government the most is to force it to expend energy in dealing with issues. The place to start is by studying the tactics of past protest movements, including the Civil Rights movement, all of which involved mass marches, occupying public spaces, participating in civil disobedience, and speaking truth to power. Keep in mind, however, that the police response was repression in the form of tear gas, dogs, fire hoses, and arrests.
Not much has changed. We still live in uncertain times, threatened on all sides by economic crises, violence at home and wars abroad, and a government bureaucracy that is out of control. Yet all is not lost. Average citizens, properly motivated and ready to take to the streets, can bring about change. However, it is up to you and me to make sure that King’s dream of “justice for all” is more than a phrase recited by school children. If we are to honor King’s life and legacy, we must be extremists for change and speak truth to power at every opportunity. As King instructed, “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” The time to act is now. Tomorrow may well be “too late.” — John W. Whitehead, author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State“