Martin Luther King's vision, The poor people 's campaign of 1967-68.
Why a poor people's campaign?
Just a year before his assassination at a Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff retreat in May 1967, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr proclaimed.
"I think it is necessary for us to realize that we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights... When we see that there must be a radical redistribution of economic and political power, then we see that for the last twelve years we have been in a reform movement that after Selma and the Voting Rights Bill, we moved into a new era, which must be an era of revolution.... In short, we have moved into an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society."
Later that year, in December 1967, Reverend Dr. King announced the plan to bring together the poor people from across the country for a new march on Washington. This march was to demand better jobs, better homes, better education, better lives than the ones they were living.
There can be no gainsaying the fact a great revolution is taking place in the world today. In a sense it is a triple revolution; a technological revolution, with the in the impact of automation and cybernation, a revolution of weaponry, with the emergence of an atomic and nuclear weapon of warfare. Lastly, there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world. Yes, we do live in a period where changes are taking place and the still the voice crying the vista of time saying, "behold, I made all things new, former things are passed away."
Now, whenever anything new comes it brings with it new challenges and new opportunities. We are coming to Washington in a Poor People's Campaign. Yes, we are going to bring the tired, poor, the huddled masses. We are coming to demand our government address itself to the problem of poverty. We read in the Declaration of Independence,"we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," but if a man doesn't have a job or, an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists.
We are coming to ask, America to be true to the huge promissory note that is signed years ago, and we are coming to engage in dramatic nonviolent action, to call attention to the gulf between promise and fulfillment, to make the invisible visible.
Rev Edward Pinkney