Number 64 (2018)


Edited by Hans-Jürgen Grabbe and Martina Kohl

Martin Luther King, Jr. and America’s Fourth Revolution: The Poor People’s Campaign at Fifty

This essay traces the development of King’s thought and organizational strategies as he came to realize the successes of the first half of the 1960’s civil rights campaigns would not come to fruition unless he was able to mobilize a broader movement built on class as well as racial equality. These efforts culminated in the Poor People’s Campaign in June 1968. King, from 1965 until 1968, struggled to engineer the nation’s willingness to “address” racial inequality into a willingness to realize the injustice, oppression, and anti-democratic nature of poverty as well. A consideration of how King’s class-conscious thought evolved, its vision and ultimate failure in the summer of 1968, have importance today. To understand the history, strategy, and potential of his faith, theory and conviction to challenge capitalism and embrace class as a social movement category is to re-engage King’s consciousness and do justice to his legacy. We conclude with a brief consideration of King’s legacy in the context of contemporary struggles for equality.

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