I have been thinking a lot about the last recorded words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., before a lone gunman took his life as he rested on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. It was 43 years ago this month that Dr. King traveled to Memphis to join the city’s public sanitation workers who had finally had enough of the abuses by their government, that they walked off the job and staged a 64-day strike. The “poor people’s campaign” was in full swing, led by a public employees union, and it would be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last stand against injustice. It was the night before his assassination that he spoke these eloquent words,
“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now…And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”
As I’ve traveled the country the past two months on a tour to promote my new book, Super Rich, I have spoken with thousands of proud, hard-working Americans and their families who still struggle to realize King’s dream of dignity, decency, economic justice and equality. I have spoken to the factory worker who counts the loose change in their cookie jar to pay for the gas in their car to get back and forth to work. I have spoken to the teacher who is scared to death to lose the job they have held for forty years because the city must make cuts. I have spoken to the men who have recently come home from prison to neighborhoods that are 80% unemployed. And in every hotel room I’ve settled in, I’ve watched on television, with horror, the struggle of the people of the state of Wisconsin who are replaying out the 1968 Memphis rallies of the public sanitation workers’ “I Am A Man” campaign. And when I flip the channel, I see the horrific images of the Libyan people who, like King, have rose up against their oppressive government to demand freedom.
Like Mayor Henry Loeb of Memphis, and Muammar Gadhafi of Libya, Governor Scott Walker has declared war on his own people. I am emphatically not saying the means are the same. Gov. Walker won an election, Gadhafi is a dictator. However, I’m saying the aims are the same – permanent power of your political party and the destruction of the proud, hard working class of the nation. And here we are 43 years later, standing with the working families of this great nation up against politicians whose pockets are lined by greedy, rich men. But the men that we respect are men like King and Sargent Shriver, two men who would never declare war on their own people, but war on the systemic problems that destroyed their people.
Gov. Walker and those who are even thinking of standing “behind” him, in the spirit of Dr. King and those who stood by his side, we will no longer endure a war against middle and working class families in this country, for we have had enough. We see who your billionaire oil buddies are, and we will stand up