We have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights, an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We have been in a reform movement… But after Selma and the voting rights bill, we moved into a new era, which must be the era of revolution. We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power…this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together…you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.” —Martin Luther King, Jr. (May 1967)
Dr. King uttered these words in response to the observations of great racial and economic inequality. He uttered these words while asking, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” In an August 1967 address to his staff, he uttered these words while noting, “The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.” He uttered these words to call into question the morality of a society and economic system that allows such ills to continue.
He uttered these words with the hopes of spurring those who listened into action to address them-so that a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream would no longer be a dream deferred. So that years later, a generation of Americans would not know–a dream deferred dries up like a raisin in the sun.
Over 50 years later, and a generation of Americans unfortunately know that a dream deferred is the nightmarish reality of justice denied…
Because over 50 years later the majority of Americans are one paycheck away from poverty. The recent government shutdown has highlighted this very serious issue.
Because over 50 years later we still have cities in this nation without sustainable access to clean drinking water. Because over 50 years later, and we still have the continued existence of slavery and chaining of black and brown bodies. Because over 50 years later, and we still have rampant police brutality against black bodies, to fight for the right to vote, fight against economic discrimination and redlining, fight against the maintenance and erection of monuments to white supremacy be they statues or walls, and to fight for the right of self-determination for communities of color and women of their politics, their money, and their bodies.
Because over 50 years later, we have reached new heights of economic inequality, have continued the existence of a hyper-segregated society, decades of continuous warfare, and the expansion of a militarized police state.
Because over 50 years later, we are a nation facing declining living conditions due to inadequate access to health care, rising homelessness, healthy food, and a clean environment. All of which are issues we have the ability to fix now via Universal Health Care, the fact we have 6 vacant houses for every 1 homeless individual, the fact we throw away one-third of the food produced for human consumption per year, and the fact we know how to fix the climate but choose not to.
Because over 50 years later we have yet to address the continued existence of the unholy trinity of economic exploitation, racism, and militarism. As long as we allow a privileged few to use this unholy matrimony at the expense of the many for the sake of a never ending pursuit of more fueled by lust for unbridled power and unadulterated greed, the hopes of our mothers and dreams of our fathers will never become actualities for our sons and our daughters.
The problems of economic exploitation, racism, and militarism will not be solved by inaction and reformation. Instead, they will be solved by ending exploitation, racism, and militarism. This requires us to place people, peace, and moral justice over profiteering, speculation, and defending systems of unearned power and privilege. This requires a restructuring of society through a revolution of values.
This is the goal of Brand New Congress-for us, it is more than simply reciting King’s Dream of a People Sitting Down Together at the Table of Brotherhood; it is about building that Table.