OAKLAND (KPIX) — On Monday the nation honored the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a non-violent crusader for civil rights and racial justice. But some say his legacy has been whitewashed and it’s important to remember what a radical disrupter he was in his day.
“Our children only know one sentence…I have a dream. That is disgraceful,” said Gerald Smith, an Oakland resident and former Black Panther.READ MORE: Victims Of EDD Bank Of America Debit Card Fraud Could Be Taxed On Benefits They Never Received
A car caravan assembled at the Oakland Port Monday afternoon, as part of a mission was “reclaim Martin Luther King, Jr’s radical legacy.” The demonstrators said today’s warm, fuzzy image of the man ignores his history as a social antagonist, willing to turn the status quo on its head.
“If he cared about upsetting people he wouldn’t have led people to interrupt business as usual, to shut down businesses from functioning and the attempt at integration, right?” said caravan organizer Cat Brooks. “It’s not about upsetting people. It’s forcing the moral imperative which says that all of us, all of us have a right to thrive.”
It was a hot summer in Chicago, in 1966. Violence broke out when police began shutting off fire hydrants that people in black neighborhoods were using to cool off. That led to arrests, looting, burning buildings and even gun battles between snipers and police. Dr. King addressed the rioting.READ MORE: 5 Charged In SF Corruption Probe, Temporarily Barred From Receiving City Contracts
“Those who will make this peaceful revolution impossible will make a violent revolution inevitable,” he said.
But that was more a warning than a plea for calm. Dr. King didn’t promote the violence but he understood why it was happening. In a KPIX interview later that year, Dr. King said those standing in the way of racial justice were as much to blame as the rioters.
“If we’ve had a summer of violence,” he said, “it’s a reflection on the whole nation. We wouldn’t have had that violence if the nation had moved forthrightly, progressively and honestly toward a resolution of the problem.”MORE NEWS: COVID: SF Restaurants Use High-Tech Tools To Make Indoor Dining Safe
So, would he be disappointed to know the same struggle still exists today? Maybe not. Martin Luther King, Jr. may have dreamt of a more just society, but he knew you have to wake people up to achieve it.