The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV

You Are STILL Being Lied To: The NEW Disinformation Guide to Media Distortion, Historical Whitewashes and Cultural MythsThis classic essay on MLK by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon is included in the disinformation anthology You Are STILL Being Lied To:

It’s become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King’s birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about “the slain civil rights leader.”

The remarkable thing about this annual review of King’s life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.

What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn’t take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they’re not shown today on TV.

Why?

It’s because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without “human rights” — including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power…

[continues on the FAIR website]

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  • unsane

    there you go obamanoids, maybe you should tell obama to look at kings foreign policy ideas, instead of bushes. hah.

    • Observer

      Obamanoids? really? This has nothing to do with that Coward Obama. King fought and died for something great and possible as is the trend throughout history. If you know anything about foreign policy the united states has had over the last 30-40 years you would be disgusted. Also I’m ashamed i voted for Obama. He turned out to be the same dog shit repackaged and wrapped up nicely. This country is fucking ridiculous. Social and economic equality is non existent here.

      …… Feels good getting that out.

      • Synapse

        That’s pretty much what I was telling everyone back in ’08, but people were too caught up in the mob mentality to believe it. That’s how presidents get elected these days, convincing you they’re different then the last sucky guy and the same as the last good guy, but in the end they do whatever they want anyhow. In this case, he’s a black democrat Bush.

        • Reckon

          PBS did a great series on the birth of “democracy” in ancient Greece. There was a fascinating part about the art of persuasion and how Drama was developed as a way to portray the ills of society and perhaps muster the collective will to address these problems. Fast forward 2000 years to the present where every waking breath is tainted with the air of somebody’s effort to convince you of something. http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=2899748

  • 5by5

    No one who put Obama in office, want him to mimic ANYTHING Bush did. Believe me.

    Back to the subject at hand, in MLK's calls for an economic bill of rights, he was echoing F.D.R. who wanted to create the same thing. I think it's about time we completed that.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PDDVWRQVUPMKRGHURIEQVNYWHQ Sean

    all kinds of people wouldn't want MLK portrayed as a communist even if it were true, if the media did show this they would be accused of a racist smear campeign. equal rights is easy for most people to get behind, equal rights to your stuff is a much different topic

    • 5by5

      Probably because he wasn’t a Communist. He was a Democratic Socialist though, which basically makes him a European or a Canadian.

      • Alturn

        King was one of the rare public figures who could see things how they were and how they should be. His views were consistent with those of the World Teacher Maitreya.

        ““Politicians must realize that the only way they can stay in power is by representing and voicing the wishes of the people. “Politicians whose creed is ‘market forces’ will find that their time is over.”
        Capitalism, in its pure form, is at an end in Europe. In future, the associate said, countries will model their governments on a form of democratic socialism. Gradually this will become the model for all nations as the most effective way to ensure that the voice and will of the people is properly represented.”
        - World Teacher Maitreya through an associate as reported by Share International.

        “My body of workers will show the world that the problems of mankind can be solved. Through the process of sharing and just redistribution, the needs of all can be met. This growing group will show men that there is but little need for the suffering of so many, for the hunger, disease and anguish which beset mankind.”
        - Messages from Maitreya the Christ

        • Tuna Ghost

          Say what you will about the objective reality of figures from mainstream religions, but this Maitreya the Christ business is several orders of not-real beyond that of Moses, Buddha, or Jesus of Nazareth.  

      • Blueburbs

        MLK was a republican………… look it up

        • 5by5

          How that is defined today, and how that was defined 50 years ago, are two different things. 

          When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 (that Ron Paul would eliminate) every Dixiecrat left the Democratic Party and walked straight into the  GOP. The Republican Party has been the choice of racists ever since.

          And the ideals that MLK held were absolute those of a Democratic Socialist. But how far do you think he would have gotten, openly stating that in a time when artists were still on the Blacklist?

          Ask Bayard Rustin, his friend and mentor, who WAS a Communist.

          For the love of all that is holy, pick up a frickin’ history book, man.

        • Tuna Ghost

          That used to mean something very different for people in the South.  I suggest a quick review of how the southern states voted before and after the Civil Rights Movement.  

  • Will Isaksson

    thanks

  • Will Isaksson

    thanks

  • 5by5

    Probably because he wasn’t a Communist. He was a Democratic Socialist though, which basically makes him a European or a Canadian.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Good essay…and a harsh reminder that, had he stuck to preaching desegregation and basic equality…he probably wouldn’t have been killed. But nothing gets a head blown off faster than stepping on the master’s toes by reminding people that it isn’t communist or socialist to demand minimum economic rights as human beings. To reject serfdom and chattel status as vestiges of a horrifying past that we should be able to leave behind us once and for all. It does not take a Soviet Union or a China People’s Revolution to push for equality and progress…or at least it shouldn’t. The push to keep people enslaved and ensnared by comparing any attempt at progress to the most notable failures is a naked fraud and a deliberate obfuscation of the pressing need for forward movement as human beings, black, white yellow, red or brown.

    In the end…MLK was a flawed man…as all human beings are flawed…but his message was timeless, on point and sorely needed. Now more than ever…they are words to think on, reflect on, and reconsider. There is but one race…and that race is human. The only progress we can make after that…is to end the vindictive cycle of class abuse. That would be the solitary act required to catapult us into a brighter age.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Good essay…and a harsh reminder that, had he stuck to preaching desegregation and basic equality…he probably wouldn’t have been killed. But nothing gets a head blown off faster than stepping on the master’s toes by reminding people that it isn’t communist or socialist to demand minimum economic rights as human beings. To reject serfdom and chattel status as vestiges of a horrifying past that we should be able to leave behind us once and for all. It does not take a Soviet Union or a China People’s Revolution to push for equality and progress…or at least it shouldn’t. The push to keep people enslaved and ensnared by comparing any attempt at progress to the most notable failures is a naked fraud and a deliberate obfuscation of the pressing need for forward movement as human beings, black, white yellow, red or brown.

    In the end…MLK was a flawed man…as all human beings are flawed…but his message was timeless, on point and sorely needed. Now more than ever…they are words to think on, reflect on, and reconsider. There is but one race…and that race is human. The only progress we can make after that…is to end the vindictive cycle of class abuse. That would be the solitary act required to catapult us into a brighter age.

  • Observer

    Obamanoids? really? This has nothing to do with that Coward Obama. King fought and died for something great and possible as is the trend throughout history. If you know anything about foreign policy the united states has had over the last 30-40 years you would be disgusted. Also I’m ashamed i voted for Obama. He turned out to be the same dog shit repackaged and wrapped up nicely. This country is fucking ridiculous. Social and economic equality is non existent here.

    …… Feels good getting that out.

  • Alturn

    King was one of the rare public figures who could see things how they were and how they should be. His views were consistent with those of the World Teacher Maitreya.

    ““Politicians must realize that the only way they can stay in power is by representing and voicing the wishes of the people. “Politicians whose creed is ‘market forces’ will find that their time is over.”
    Capitalism, in its pure form, is at an end in Europe. In future, the associate said, countries will model their governments on a form of democratic socialism. Gradually this will become the model for all nations as the most effective way to ensure that the voice and will of the people is properly represented.”
    - World Teacher Maitreya through an associate as reported by Share International.

    “My body of workers will show the world that the problems of mankind can be solved. Through the process of sharing and just redistribution, the needs of all can be met. This growing group will show men that there is but little need for the suffering of so many, for the hunger, disease and anguish which beset mankind.”
    - Messages from Maitreya the Christ

  • Synapse

    That’s pretty much what I was telling everyone back in ’08, but people were too caught up in the mob mentality to believe it. That’s how presidents get elected these days, convincing you they’re different then the last sucky guy and the same as the last good guy, but in the end they do whatever they want anyhow. In this case, he’s a black democrat Bush.

  • Reckon

    PBS did a great series on the birth of “democracy” in ancient Greece. There was a fascinating part about the art of persuasion and how Drama was developed as a way to portray the ills of society and perhaps muster the collective will to address these problems. Fast forward 2000 years to the present where every waking breath is tainted with the air of somebody’s effort to convince you of something. http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=2899748

  • Blueburbs

    MLK was a republican………… look it up

  • http://twitter.com/prosperhappily Robert S

    It’s not shown for the same reason that the mainstream press ignores/marginalizes Ron Paul.  They both challenge the staus quo. 

    The two are very different from each other.  But, they would both diminish the wealth and power of the elite. In MLK’s case, he’s too big to ignore.  So, they play up the stuff they like & ignore the stuff they don’t. 

  • http://twitter.com/prosperhappily Robert S

    It’s not shown for the same reason that the mainstream press ignores/marginalizes Ron Paul.  They both challenge the staus quo. 

    The two are very different from each other.  But, they would both diminish the wealth and power of the elite. In MLK’s case, he’s too big to ignore.  So, they play up the stuff they like & ignore the stuff they don’t. 

    • Monkey See Monkey Do

      Ron Paul is a clone, a puppet. He doesn’t want the redistribution of wealth, he wants to let people pursue wealth more freely without regulation. Capitalism calls for individuals to pursue wealth at the expense of others, if one doesn’t do this then they wont be as financially successful as the ones that do. Ron Paul wants to turn government power into corporate power.

  • 5by5

    How that is defined today, and how that was defined 50 years ago, are two different things. 

    When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 (that Ron Paul would eliminate) every Dixiecrat left the Democratic Party and walked straight into the  GOP. The Republican Party has been the choice of racists ever since.

    And the ideals that MLK held were absolute those of a Democratic Socialist. But how far do you think he would have gotten, openly stating that in a time when artists were still on the Blacklist?

    Ask Bayard Rustin, his friend and mentor, who WAS a Communist.

    For the love of all that is holy, pick up a frickin’ history book, man.

  • Anonymous

    MLK was for all people but wanted the people of color to be be on the same playing field as caucasians. He was a great man.

  • lucifer69

    MLK was for all people but wanted the people of color to be be on the same playing field as caucasians. He was a great man.

  • gwen jackson

    He was also very anti-war, and the civil rights movement had proven how effective he was at mobilizing people to demand change, so, yeah..he really had to go.

  • gwen jackson

    He was also very anti-war, and the civil rights movement had proven how effective he was at mobilizing people to demand change, so, yeah..he really had to go.

  • Tuna Ghost

    That used to mean something very different for people in the South.  I suggest a quick review of how the southern states voted before and after the Civil Rights Movement.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    Say what you will about the objective reality of figures from mainstream religions, but this Maitreya the Christ business is several orders of not-real beyond that of Moses, Buddha, or Jesus of Nazareth.  

  • Hadrian999

    leaders often get neutered by the media, Mandela and Ghandi also were neutered. Mandela was a “terrorist” in his youth and Ghandi along with his hobby if sharing his bed with young women to test his “willpower” was not adverse to violence “I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by non-violently facing death may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. He has no business to be the head of a family. He must either hide himself, or must rest content to live for ever in helplessness and be prepared to crawl like a worm at the bidding of a bully”.

  • Hadrian999

    leaders often get neutered by the media, Mandela and Ghandi also were neutered. Mandela was a “terrorist” in his youth and Ghandi along with his hobby if sharing his bed with young women to test his “willpower” was not adverse to violence “I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by non-violently facing death may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. He has no business to be the head of a family. He must either hide himself, or must rest content to live for ever in helplessness and be prepared to crawl like a worm at the bidding of a bully”.

    • Monkey See Monkey Do

      Ghandi and King didn’t resort to violence yet they didnt crawl like a worn at the bidding of a bully either. They stood strong and were FAR MORE violent than most activists in history. The difference is they were violent at the system, while so many other activists choose violence against other people (people are afterall are just another expression of you).  Individual self-defence is a different issue, that is why people need to learn more about the philosophies and practices of martial arts.

      • Hadrian999

        don’t get me wrong I am not disparaging them , I am only using them as examples of how often effective revolutionary leaders get coopted by the media and turned into neutered mascots, we rarely see them depicted as they really were

  • Monkey See Monkey Do

    Ron Paul is a clone, a puppet. He doesn’t want the redistribution of wealth, he wants to let people pursue wealth more freely without regulation. Capitalism calls for individuals to pursue wealth at the expense of others, if one doesn’t do this then they wont be as financially successful as the ones that do. Ron Paul wants to turn government power into corporate power.

  • Monkey See Monkey Do

    Ghandi and King didn’t resort to violence yet they didnt crawl like a worn at the bidding of a bully either. They stood strong and were FAR MORE violent than most activists in history. The difference is they were violent at the system, while so many other activists choose violence against other people (people are afterall are just another expression of you).  Individual self-defence is a different issue, that is why people need to learn more about the philosophies and practices of martial arts.

  • Bulletproofheart Phil

    Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves. – Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Bulletproofheart Phil

    Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves. – Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Hadrian999

    don’t get me wrong I am not disparaging them , I am only using them as examples of how often effective revolutionary leaders get coopted by the media and turned into neutered mascots, we rarely see them depicted as they really were

  • tomasiepants

    Good lord. Then why don’t corporations back Ron Paul yet LOVE Obama?

    • DeepCough

      Ron Paul would’ve legalized weed, and we just can’t have that.

  • BuzzCoastin

    the fact that majority of American prisoners are Black
    kinda sums up whats really going on in the Land of the Free
    but it’s nice to pretend otherwise a few times a year

  • Mr B

    ‘No one who put Obama in office, want [sic] him to mimic
    ANYTHING Bush did. Believe me.’

    What a rotten community we have. Giving a statement so apoplectically
    false hitherto 6 *ups*.

    Is anyone here (other than me) actually capable of critical thinking?

  • Mr B

    I’m mystified by that popular reply.

    unsane was seemingly criticizing: Obama’s and GW Bush’s foreign policies, the former’s supporters and his very recent (widely reported), cynical, selective, exploitation of MLK Jr.

    Perfectly relevant to this article.

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