US Freedom Riders woke a nation. Palestinian Freedom Riders must wake the world

on 49 Comments

(Clarence B. Jones is Scholar in Residence, Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University)

Last month I was invited as a guest to a reunion of former Assistant and Deputy Attorneys General from the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Pulitzer-Prize-winning civil rights historian Taylor Branch and civil rights activists Julian Bond and Robert Moses also attended. Moses had been Mississippi Field Director of Voter Registration for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee during the 1960s. The reunion was also the occasion for the celebration of the 90th birthday of John Doer, the former Civil Rights Division’s Deputy Attorney General.

Several historically memorable civil rights events were discussed: Albany, Ga., 1962; Birmingham, Ala., 1963; the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963; Mississippi summer of 1964; the march from Selma to Montgomery, 1965; the Voting Rights Act of 1965; etc. As Dr. King’s lawyer and political advisor during those years and events, I represented him and the SCLC. We frequently appealed for support and assistance from either Attorney General Robert Kennedy and/or President Johnson.

We were often positioned or viewed as “adversarial.” On the orders of Attorney General RFK, wiretaps were illegally installed on my home and office phones, along with the home and office phones of Dr. King, by J. Edgar Hoover, from July 13, 1963 until the end of December 1967. After transcribing the content of every conversation, 24/7/365, that took place between us, the wiretaps were discontinued by Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

I was glad to learn more about the individual dedication of several lawyers in the Justice Department during those years. They worked to enable the civil rights movement to succeed in challenging racial segregation in public facilities and sought to protect our efforts at voter registration. As historian Nick Kotz writes in Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Laws that Changed America, “Without tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding change as they transformed restaurant counters into venues for sit-ins, bus trips in to Freedom Rides, and voter registration into bloody battlefields, the shining moments of the 1960s never would have become a possibility.”

The Civil Rights Division’s “baptism by fire” during the administration of President Kennedy was the interracial Freedom Riders journeys to desegregate interstate bus transportation. The Freedom Riders sounded an alarm bell to awaken our nation’s conscience to one of the most egregious and personally humiliating forms of racial segregation that hundreds of thousands of African Americans had to endure, the precepts and principles of equality and justice enshrined in our Declaration of Independence notwithstanding.

During the “Arab Spring” I was pleased to learn that several of its leaders had not only read about Mahatma Gandhi’s and Dr. King’s philosophies and actions of nonviolent civil disobedience, but they had also studied Gene Sharp’s Self-Liberation: A Guide to Strategic Planning for Action to End a Dictatorship or Other Oppression, published by the Albert Einstein Institution. Earlier this week I received a press release that reminded me of the connection a new generation of people from the Middle East feels about the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The release says that next Tuesday Palestinian activists from the Ramallah Cultural Palace in the West Bank “will attempt to board segregated Israeli public transportation headed from inside the West Bank to occupied East Jerusalem in an act of civil disobedience inspired by the Freedom Riders of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 60s.” The press release continues by saying:

Fifty years after the U. S. Freedom Riders staged mixed-race bus rides through the roads of the segregated American South, Palestinian activists will attempt to board segregated Israeli public transportation headed from inside the West Bank … asserting their right for liberty and dignity by disrupting the military regime of the Occupation through peaceful civil disobedience.

While it is not officially forbidden for Palestinians to use Israeli public transportation in the West Bank, these lines are effectively segregated, since many of them pass through Jewish-only settlements, to which Palestinian entry is probhited by a military decree.

The media seems fixated on Herman Cain’s alleged sexual misconduct, Governor Rick Perry’s momentary lapses of memory, Mitt Romney’s alleged political “flip-flops,” and who will emerge as the GOP challenger to the reelection of President Obama. Nevertheless, as the recent disclosure of an unknown open mic discussion between Presidents Obama and Sarkozy about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu indicates, major matters continue that affect U.S. foreign policy toward Israel, the Palestinians and the Middle East.

Once again, America is transfixed on an incident of alleged sexual harassment by a political figure intertwined with the issue of race. Meanwhile, our outsized debt, national spending, high unemployment, housing foreclosures and Wall Street bonuses also continue unabated.

It is refreshing that amidst all of this Sturm und Drang, some Palestinian activists remain inspired by the legacy of our Freedom Riders.

The question confronting us is whether our sense of moral responsibility can transcend the latest “scandal” of the week long enough for us to focus our attention on the plea from our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

Just as our Freedom Riders in the 20th century were primarily directed to awaken the conscience and sense of decency in the majority of white America, our Palestinian “Freedom Riders” brothers and sisters are seeking, in the 21st century, to awaken the conscience of the world and a majority of Israelis.

On Nov. 8 the Associated Press reported that the State Department had announced that “International Mideast mediators will hold separate talks with the Israelis and Palestinians this week in a bid to re-launch stalled peace talks after a series of setbacks that have badly damaged prospects for negotiations.” This is good news.

My attendance at the reunion of lawyers from the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department reminded me of what Martin Luther King, Jr. would often say: “The moral arc of the Universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It is this same moral arc that enabled Civil Rights Justice Department personnel to gather in pride to celebrate their work more than 50 years ago and enabled me to see them with greater respect than I did at the time.

I woke up this morning humming a song from our Civil Rights Movement. It made me think about Dr. King’s moral “arc.” The “arc” is also resilient enough for me to hear the plea of the Palestinian “Freedom Riders” from Ramallah in the West Bank.

I hope that amidst the media clatter of domestic presidential politics, you can also hear them.

Clarence B. Jones is the former personal counsel, adviser, draft speech writer and close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is Scholar in Residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.  Author of  Behind The Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation , his personal, insider’s account of the 1963 March On Washington. This piece appeared first on Huffington Post.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

Other posts by .

Posted In:

49 Responses

  1. annie
    November 13, 2011, 1:02 pm

    i just received this email from Clarence B. Jones

    People should be reminded of what President John F. Kennedy said:”Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”

    This is the moral and political choice confronting both Israel and the Palestinians today.

    Tunisia, Yemen, Baharain,Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Libya following the “Arab Spring” constitute “Exhibit A”

  2. annie
    November 13, 2011, 1:26 pm

    it speaks volumes to me Martin’s close associate has endorsed the Palestinian Freedom Riders. for anyone who does not recall our post w/video here Martin in Palestine about the kickstart project by filmmaker Connie Field, director-producer of both Have You Heard From Johannesburg and the Academy Award nominated Freedom On My Mind about the civil rights movement in the US.

    the film Passages of Martin Luther King by esteemed King Scholar Clayborne Carson, Director of Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute @ Stanford University where Clarence B. Jones is Scholar in Residence.

    this is huge and i cannot express how much it gives me hope and stirs my emotions.

    • thetumta
      November 13, 2011, 4:56 pm

      Yes, it is very promising, I hope.

      • annie
        November 13, 2011, 5:13 pm

        there are several actions in the bay area i have heard about for tuesday in solidarity. very exciting.

  3. MRW
    November 13, 2011, 1:53 pm

    Let’s get some history right, once and for all.

    Ella Baker was the one who coordinated the Freedom Rides (and organized the lunchroom sit-ins). Charles Payne, with his living interviews, goes into the detail, how she was the head of he NAACP in 1952, how she helped create SCLC, then SNCC. But she was a woman, so she didn’t get any credit for it. She’d been working in the Civil Rights Movement since before she graduated from university at the age of 24 in 1927, the year Martin was born. (Her grandmother led slave revolts.)

    I don’t have time to find Payne’s excellent I’ve got the Light of Freedom book, by Charles Payne, so I’ll just dump these paragraphs on you from wikipedia (I’ll break ’em up). You can just scroll on by if it bores you. But knowing the truth would be nice. The myth of Martin is starting to sound like the Nabka didn’t happen stories/

    Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1957-1960)
    In January 1957, Baker went to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a conference aimed at developing a new regional organization to build on the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. After a second conference in February, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was formed.

    The conference’s first project was the Crusade for Citizenship, a voter registration campaign. Baker was hired as the first staffperson for the new organization. Along with Bayard Rustin, one of her close allies, she was co-organizer of the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage which brought thousands of activists to Washington D.C.

    Because she was neither a man nor a minister, she was not seriously considered for the post of executive director, but she worked with the SCLC ministers to hire Reverend John Tilley in that capacity. Baker worked closely with southern civil rights activists in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and was highly respected for her organizing abilities.

    She helped initiate voter registration campaigns and identify other local grievances. After Tilley resigned, she remained in Atlanta for two and a half years as interim executive director of the SCLC until the post was taken up by Wyatt Tee Walker in April 1960.[12]

    Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (1960-1966)
    That same year, on the heels of regional desegregation sit-ins led by black college students, Baker persuaded the SCLC to invite southern university students to the Southwide Youth Leadership Conference at Shaw University on Easter weekend. (Her alma mater.)

    At this meeting the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed. The SNCC became the most active organization in the Delta, and it was relatively open to women.[13]

    Following the conference Baker resigned from the SCLC and began a long and intimate relationship with SNCC (pronounced “snick”).[14] Along with Howard Zinn, Baker was one of SNCC’s highly revered adult advisors, called the “Godmother of SNCC.”

    In 1961 Ella Baker persuaded the SNCC to form two wings: One wing for direct action and the Second wing for voter registration. It was with Baker’s help that SNCC (along with Congress of Racial Equality) coordinated the region-wide freedom rides of 1961 and began to work closely with black sharecroppers and others throughout the South.

    Ella Baker insisted that “strong people don’t need strong leaders,” and criticized the notion of a single charismatic leader at the helm of movements for social change. Ella Baker pushed the idea of “Participatory Democracy”, therefore, she wanted each person to get involved individually.[15]

    She also argued that “people under the heel,” referring to the most oppressed sectors of any community, “had to be the ones to decide what action they were going to take to get (out) from under their oppression.”

    She was a teacher and mentor to the young people of SNCC, highly influencing the thinking of such important figures as Julian Bond, Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, Curtis Muhammad, Bob Moses, and Bernice Johnson Reagon, who wrote a song in Baker’s honor, called “Ella’s Song.”

    Through SNCC, Baker’s ideas of group-centered leadership and the need for radical democratic social change spread throughout the student movements of the 1960s. Her ideas influenced the philosophy of participatory democracy put forth by Students for a Democratic Society, the major antiwar group of the day.

    These ideas also influenced a wide range of radical and progressive groups that would form in the 60s and 70s.[16]

    As she said, “The movement made Martin. Martin didn’t make the movement.”

    • annie
      November 13, 2011, 2:34 pm

      hey thanks for channeling Ella Barker.

      Let’s get some history right, once and for all.

      mrw, your statement implies something in this article conflicts with history. it’s true martin stood on the shoulders of giants. martin didn’t make the movement , he made the movement universal in a timeless way that resonates far beyond america’s civil rights movement.

      Ella Baker’s star shines brighter every year and history will remember and honor her. yes, had she been a man it might have been different but those were the times.

      • MRW
        November 13, 2011, 4:22 pm

        Nah, annie, the article doesn’t conflict with history, it constrains it, and every article about MLK since they gave him his own day has lifted him six inches closer to heaven.

        There wouldn’t have been the passage of a Civil Rights law in the 60s, nor even a movement, without Ella Baker—period—and the two other women she started with back in the late 20s and 30s. She was indefatigable, sure, but she was the brilliant strategist. She was 52 years old when she gave up being the head of the NAACP to help a sick relative, and she helped MLK get it, he was 25, fresh out of school, studly, with a new wife; and she had been organizing for 40 years (since she was 16.) She was a Frederick Douglass type, and worked every black community and organization up and down the eastern seaboard. I don’t think she ever married. They say it was MLK who planned the big voting registration in Alabama. No, it wasn’t. It was Baker. But he got his church people to get everyone out. She wouldn’t let anyone walk on her shoulders; she was the one who made everyone else put their shoulders back and claim their place no matter what the racism.

        He resonates beyond the civil rights movement because he was a great orator (with great charisma), he’s a man, and he died young. Marilyn Monroe. He was iconically linked to RFK, you know, ‘they’re killing all the best ones’ because of the two month proximity. But he didn’t have that stature after he died. No way. Racism was alive and well. He didn’t gain his stature until the SuperBowl moved. When the NFL said F**k U in 1990 and moved the Superbowl from Arizona to Pasadena because Arizona wouldn’t honor MLK Day, that was the ballgame (sorry for the pun). That was the day MLK hit Mount Rushmore. That was the day white America found out you don’t f**k a black legend. You just name more things after him and talk about him reverently ;-)

        Charlie Payne’s book really gets into the sense of Ella of how large she was inside the black political community. (It’s not like whitey was writing about it.)

      • annie
        November 14, 2011, 1:06 pm

        here. read it. this is why martin is great. this is why martin deserves any, all and every kind of lifting. from the comments:

        this letter is considered by many to be the turning point in the civil rights movement.

        please take the time to read this brief essay from crisis magazine by Ronald J. Rychlak, Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law, titled Natural Law from a Birmingham Jail for context. also the article highlights the most essential parts of the letter. the parts that bring home the universality of martin’s brilliance.

        Eight white clergymen from Birmingham, including a Catholic bishop and a rabbi, wrote a letter appealing to the black population to stop such demonstrations. These clergymen were not bigots; they just did not want the kind of confrontations that King had provoked. They wanted to let the courts work toward integration. Their letter was published in the local newspaper under the title, “A Call for Unity.”

        King’s response to the clergymen, his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” was one of the finest modern appeals to natural law.

      • MRW
        November 21, 2011, 10:06 pm

        Yes, I understand that, annie, but it was Baker who changed King’s thinking, as she did that of Stokely Carmichael, Andrew Young, Julian Bond and the rest of them. It was Baker who taught King that it was wrong to “use moral means to preserve immoral ends.” She was doing that from the age of 16 leading demonstrations in school (which would make that around 1919!!). She had a heightened sense of of justice. Fascinating woman.

        (I’m just going through my profile now and answering posts I missed before.)

  4. ymedad
    November 13, 2011, 3:25 pm

    just remind me about the comparison with the civil rights movement, when were Southern blacks using terror tactics which obligated a stringent security apparatus which led to oppression?

    by the admission of the manifesto, “While it is not officially forbidden for Palestinians to use Israeli public transportation in the West Bank”, there is no official “segregation”, etc. And there is no apartheid as Arab vehicles drive the same roads Jews do (and there are plenty of roads Jews cannot drive along as they are Arab-dominated) while Pal Authority leaders announce no Jews will be permitted to live in their state-to-be.

    So, is someone on the wrong bus here?

    • annie
      November 13, 2011, 3:41 pm

      And there is no apartheid as Arab vehicles drive the same roads Jews do

      for your edification: B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

      circa 2004 Forbidden Roads: The Discriminatory West Bank Road Regime

      yes there have been supreme court cases etc but this practice goes on continually.

      B’Tselem’s report deals with one of the primary, albeit lesser known, elements of Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian movement in the Occupied Territories: the prohibition on Palestinian travel along certain roads in the West Bank.

      The forbidden roads regime is a slippery policy, in part because its rules and regulations have never been set in writing: not in Knesset legislation, nor in decisions of the political echelon, nor in military orders, nor in press releases, nor even in road signs warning Palestinians that their travel on a road is prohibited or restricted. The regime is based on verbal orders given to soldiers, and in practices that the IDF has employed in the West Bank since the current intifada began.

      i recommend you read the report because your head is firmly stuck in the sand if you believe what you have written. i have been there, when was the last time you visited the oPt?

      • ymedad
        November 13, 2011, 3:55 pm

        (i’d hate to imagine where your head is stuck into)

        quoting B’tselem is as good as quoting Ahmadenijad on non-nuclear Iran. but, to the point, look and see (like in 3rd grade):

      • kapok
        November 13, 2011, 4:52 pm

        “as good as quoting Ahmadenijad” That’s a relief, since he’s as least as honest as the well-coiffed ghouls you slobber over.

      • andrew r
        November 13, 2011, 5:28 pm

        I was going to argue with ymedad using this table but then noticed he already pooh-pooh’d it on his blog.

      • annie
        November 13, 2011, 5:46 pm

        andrew, yeah he ‘pooh pooh’d’ it here too. see the comment of mine he responded to like this “B’tselem is as good as quoting Ahmadenijad“. that is when i quit bothering to respond to him. disgusting. he’s the problem, him and his ilk. he’s poisoned the land.

      • Cliff
        November 14, 2011, 6:39 am

        B’tselem is a mainstream NGO. You are a land-stealing, fundamentalist loonbag, settler.

        You speaking here is like Ahmadenijad speaking about the Holocaust.

        Get lost. Preferably to whatever European nation you hail from and OFF of Palestinian land.

      • Bumblebye
        November 13, 2011, 4:22 pm

        annie, he’s a militant settler who lives there. Some of the posts on his blog reference “Pestilinians”. Not racist, much?
        Part 1 of bbc Hardtalk:

        He also seems to claim settlements are legal in international law.
        Totally twisted mind.

      • Bumblebye
        November 13, 2011, 4:41 pm

        Oops, that link’s duff.

      • kapok
        November 13, 2011, 7:29 pm

        Yeah, I had my nippers about to close on his heel, but the Invigilator let him get away.

      • annie
        November 13, 2011, 7:39 pm

        let’s hope he’s gone for good kapok.

        thanks for the heads up bumble

      • kapok
        November 13, 2011, 7:56 pm

        Fie! I love evisceratin’ ’em! That’s a lot of bile I have to swallow now.

    • Woody Tanaka
      November 13, 2011, 3:56 pm

      “when were Southern blacks using terror tactics which obligated a stringent security apparatus which led to oppression?”

      Well, they didn’t have to face the kind of demonic oppression meted out by the Israeli Jews.

      “Pal Authority leaders announce no Jews will be permitted to live in their state-to-be.”

      First of all, if you can’t write out “Palestinian” then just write “PA”. Shorting it to “Pal” is offensive. It would be starting to talk about Hebrew speakers and just writing “Heebs”

      Further, this statement is a lie. No Israelis will be permitted there, and rightfully so. Not all Jews are Israelis.

      “So, is someone on the wrong bus here?”

      Yes, you and all the European and American Jews terrorizing the Palestinians, stealing their land, and bathing in their blood.

      • annie
        November 13, 2011, 4:04 pm

        obligated a stringent security apparatus

        notice his framing woody, zionism is ‘obligated’ to ethnicly cleanse palestinians from their own land. he’s a nakba denier.

      • Woody Tanaka
        November 13, 2011, 6:51 pm

        Of course, annie. Zionists are, in my experience, wholly incapable of admitting that Jews consciously chose to unleash evil on the people in this part of the world in their foul Zionist project. Even when they choose to do evil, they like to pretend that they, poor dears, poor little flowers, were FORCED to do it by those evil Arabs. It’s disgusting bilge.

    • kapok
      November 13, 2011, 4:45 pm

      State2B. If it’s a single state Jews, bless their extra-special souls, will be given full equal citizenship. Unless they’re usurpers(I’m looking at your bronzed face!) who’ve decided a free home on somone else’s hilltop is right up their alley.

    • andrew r
      November 13, 2011, 5:00 pm

      “just remind me about the comparison with the civil rights movement, when were Southern blacks using terror tactics which obligated a stringent ecurity apparatus which led to oppression?”

      In other words, had blacks responded to lynching by killing whites, the segregationist measures that were already in place would be justified on security grounds. And those struggling against segregation through non-violent tactics would be completely discredited in the eyes of, well, those who imposed it on them to begin with.

      Also, the segregation itself isn’t a sufficient cause for Palestinian attacks. It’s backing up the segregation through military offensives on civilians. You need to feign a lot of cluelessness to cast the segregated people as the bad guy.

    • thetumta
      November 13, 2011, 5:01 pm

      “when were Southern blacks using terror tactics which obligated a stringent security apparatus which led to oppression?” Google “Nat Turners rebellion”. They were very successful, murdered many of their white tormenters and their families before they were killed. You asked?

    • petersz
      November 13, 2011, 6:54 pm

      Apartheid or Hafrada as the Zionists call it means seperation. Separate legal system, seperate schooling system, separate residential areas all enforced by checkpoints, passes, separate road system, unequal allocation of resources, racist laws in relation to marriage, residency, employment enforced by massacres, demolitions and expulsions over 60 years adds up to de facto and de jure apartheid. Israel is now being outed as an apartheid state, attempts to deny it are now seen as being as ridiculous as King Canute trying to stop the tide coming in.

    • Donald
      November 13, 2011, 7:34 pm

      “when were Southern blacks using terror tactics which obligated a stringent security apparatus which led to oppression?”

      Go back a little further in time, settler, and read up on the Haitian slave revolt and Nat Turner’s revolt. The Haitian revolution was near genocidal in its violence on all sides, and Nat Turner’s men murdered white women and children. John Brown’s attempt to start a slave insurrection helped set the stage for our Civil War. If you think 19th Century white Southerners weren’t terrified by the prospect of a slave insurrection then you don’t really know much about the psychology of white southerners.

      So by your reasoning you have been siding with the white slaveowners rather than the abolitionists.

      As for the 1960’s, perhaps you haven’t heard of the race riots we had then. A lot of people thought the country was going to go up in flames. Some reacted like you and blamed the blacks for the violence, ignoring the root causes. Maybe you do understand the white racist mentality–from the inside, that is.

      • annie
        November 13, 2011, 11:45 pm

        yeah donald, i know all about the brownites. my great great uncle was an abolitionist minister, circuit rider, lynched for preaching against slavery, accused of being a brownite.

        His death made him a martyr and was among the most inflammatory acts leading up to the Civil War.

        here’s more.

        . When the church divided over the issue of slavery in 1845, the Missouri Conference voted to join the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Bewley was among the antislavery members of the conference who refused to accept this decision and chose instead to remain in what they considered to be the true Methodist Church. By 1848 these Methodists had reorganized into the Missouri Conference of the Northern Church, though many still referred to themselves simply as members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

        By 1858, after serving for ten years in Northern Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri, Bewley had moved his family to Johnson County, Texas, and established a mission sixteen miles south of Fort Worth. Although he was considered to be weak on the slavery issue by some northern Methodists, his antislavery views were threatening to southerners. Thus, when vigilance committees alleged in the summer of 1860 that there was a widespread abolitionist plot to burn Texas towns and murder their citizens, suspicion immediately fell upon Bewley and other outspoken critics of slavery (see TEXAS TROUBLES). Special attention was focused on Bewley because of an incendiary letter, dated July 3, 1860, addressed to a Rev. William Bewley and supposedly written by a fellow abolitionist, William H. Bailey. Many argued that the letter, which urged Bewley to continue with his work in helping to free Texas from slavery, was a forgery. The letter was widely published, however, and taken by others as evidence of Bewley’s involvement with the John Brownites in Texas.

        his name was Anthony Bewley

  5. kapok
    November 13, 2011, 4:18 pm

    Welcome, Clarence Jones. Perhaps you can lay to rest a controversy that bubbled up here recently: Was King a zionist?

    • annie
      November 13, 2011, 5:36 pm

      something tells me if king was a zionist that would have been confirmed by now. of course you could just enter ‘zionism’ into the search engine of The King Center or the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University (link in Jones’s bio).

      i’ve looked. there’s no evidence king ever mentioned the word zionism, zionist, or anti either of those. and if there’s any evidence king was a zionist or an ethnic nationalist it is not reflected in his archives as far as i know.

      • kapok
        November 13, 2011, 6:40 pm

        Mebbe MLKJr said it some other way, ne ce pas? Anyhoo, a King scholar should know if nobody else does.

        Do you, Mr Jones?

      • annie
        November 13, 2011, 7:08 pm

        not sure if he’s reading the thread kapok or that he is registered to comment. i wrote him and asked permission to publish it. i found his email address in the internet thru Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. you could email him and see what he says.

      • kapok
        November 13, 2011, 7:50 pm


      • john h
        November 13, 2011, 8:31 pm

        You are right in principle, annie, but it must be remembered he was a man of his time, of his Christian understanding of Israel as its birthplace, and of his own pressing priorities. Put these together and it does not surprise he may have had a blind spot or two.

        However, the measure of the man is we can know that, had he lived in the last few decades, his principles, which were not mere theories but put into practice daily, could only have led him in one direction regarding Zionism and what was or was not being done by it and about it.

        Take a look, for example, at “MLK’s Legacy and Israel’s Future” at huffingtonpost.

        Consider the following:

        “When he broke his silence on Vietnam, King denounced the “morbid fear of communism” that had turned Western nations into “arch anti-revolutionaries,” willing to “adjust to injustice.”

        King agreed with Gandhi that fear was a crucial source of evil. “There is one evil,” he said, “that is worse than violence, and that’s cowardice.”

        King’s blind spot (and even the greatest people have them) was in not recognizing that Israel’s violence against Palestinians, too, was — and still is — similarly motivated by irrational fear.”

        Who is it who has constantly “adjusted to injustice”, who is it who has shown cowardice with regard to Zionism and its expression? There’s quite a list of countries, groups, and individuals, but King would not be among them.

      • john h
        November 13, 2011, 9:22 pm

        For more on this and how his legacy is misused, see “Israel’s apologists and the Martin Luther King Jr. hoax” at electronicintifada.

      • john h
        November 13, 2011, 10:44 pm

        My search has also brought this up:

        “One of the most vexing issues is Israel. King had expressed support for the Jewish state throughout his life, believing that the history of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust made it a moral cause worth defending. “In those days, what was clear was that the state of Israel was a matter of justice for Jews,” said Susannah Heschel, daughter of Abraham Joshua and a prominent scholar of Jewish studies who teaches at Dartmouth. “For Dr. King, [supporting Israel] was very much about justice.”

        But things had changed by 1967, on the eve of the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War. Days before Israel began its pre-emptive strike, as Arab countries encircled the state and Egyptian President Nasser’s rhetoric grew increasingly violent, King lent his name to an open letter published in The New York Times urging U.S. support for Israel.

        But King privately rued the decision. As Taylor Branch writes in “At Canaan’s Edge” (2007), his authoritative history of King’s final years, King “smarted from criticism that he had abandoned non-violence.” A day after the war ended, King worried that Israel might itself become the aggressor. As King told his advisers: “Israel faces the danger of being smug and unyielding.”

        For King, a one-sided endorsement in the Six-Day War would look hypocritical, particularly in light of his recent denunciation of the Vietnam War

        “I think he was for the Zionist project as he understood it,” said Clayborne Carson, a leading King historian at Stanford and editor of “The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.” “But we’re talking about a different Israel than we have today. Back then it was seen as the underdog.” (King and the Jews, thejewishweek)

  6. eGuard
    November 13, 2011, 4:52 pm

    Yes, this is terror.

  7. yourstruly
    November 13, 2011, 6:28 pm

    palestinian freedom fighters waking up the world + the justice for palestine movement’s educating the public as to the importance of ending the u.s.-israel special relationship = one giant step towards peace on earth and justice for all living beings.*

    *because without the u.s. backing up its belligerent behavior towards arab/islamic peoples, the settler entity’s only option would be to sit down with its palestinian neighbors, and, on the basis of one equals one, work with them to figure out how to get along, such that, there’s liberty and justice for all.

    • yourstruly
      November 13, 2011, 6:42 pm

      what about the masada option? a joke, that’s what. how many israelis are ready for martyrdom? perhaps as many as would be left in the entity, once the u.s.-israel axis of evil ain’t no more? something about circa half the jewish israelis having a second passport?

  8. Richard Witty
    November 13, 2011, 7:24 pm

    A brilliant effort based on a brilliant and courageous model.

    The character of the freedom riders and those that sat in and willingly took abuse and lived with it for a greater purpose, if similarly modeled in Palestinians and sympathizers, will succeed enormously.

    Stereotypes were broken wide open by that demonstration of character.

    • annie
      November 13, 2011, 7:40 pm

      thanks for positively chiming in richard.

    • Donald
      November 13, 2011, 7:47 pm

      I’m going to join annie and thank you for this, Richard.

      • john h
        November 13, 2011, 9:05 pm

        Agreed, credit where credit is due; well said, Richard.

    • Citizen
      November 14, 2011, 5:41 am

      Geez, I actually agree with Richard Witty here.

  9. Charon
    November 14, 2011, 1:38 am

    The desire to sacrifice an entire lifetime to the noblest of ideals serves no purpose if one works alone.

    When forces of oppression come to maintain themselves in power against established law, peace is considered already broken.

    The life of a single human being is worth a million times more than all the property of the richest man on earth.

    We should not allow the word “democracy” to be utilized apologetically to represent the dictatorship of the exploiting classes.

    Peaceful coexistence cannot be limited to the powerful countries if we want to ensure world peace. Peaceful coexistence must be exercised among all states, regardless of size, regardless of the previous historical relations that linked them, and regardless of the problems that may arise among some of them at a given moment.

    Where a government has come into power through some form of popular vote, fraudulent or not, and maintains at least an appearance of constitutional legality, the guerrilla outbreak cannot be promoted, since the possibilities of peaceful struggle have not yet been exhausted.

    These are quotes from Che Guevara. He was not perfect and the execution of his ideology did not turn out well. But he was a brilliant man and everybody can learn from him. I don’t agree with all of his socialist revolution ideas, especially pertaining work, but the man was on the right track.

  10. yourstruly
    November 14, 2011, 3:21 am

    from having watched last night’s public tv’s “Marching Once More: Sixty Years after the Battle of the Bulge”

    post any & all wars, how to tell whether a specific war had been a war of liberation or a war of conquest?

    best, perhaps, by the nature & feel of the welcome that a formerly occupied people give to visiting veterans of any or all of the armies that had taken over their homeland

    the welcome that the returning GI’s received in Bastogne?

    uplifting, powerful, inspirational

    based on?

    having experiencing the reunion on public tv

    but what sort of reception if german army veterans of the Battle of the Bulge were to hold a reunion in Bastogne?

    would they dare even to request holding a reunion there?

    and five years from now what kind of welcome can ex-american GIs from the iraq war expect to receive, should they hold a reunion in Baghdad?

    • yourstruly
      November 14, 2011, 9:42 am


      not vicariously experiencing the battle but sadly reliving it, since i experienced it as a teenager anxiously following the battle as best one could from newspaper and radio reports, at the same time knowing that a soldier friend was over there and hoping he’d survive that ordeal

      also, love-fest best describes the reunion of the Battle of the Bulge veterans with the community they had liberated

Leave a Reply