In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech. … We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security. —FBI Director William C. Sullivan, Enemies: A History of the FBI

Today the USA celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the same country that arrested him 30 times and used its powerful surveillance apparatus, the FBI and the NSA, to target him as “the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation” right after he gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. This is the speech that colorblind adherent exploit when they resist efforts to address racial inequity. But Dr. King’s speech is the same one in which he denounced police brutality against Black people, and insisted that it was “the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

It comes as no surprise then that Dr. King was later assassinated a mere 5 years later—some, including his family, say by the government.

Today, however, he is celebrated as a national hero, and his non-violent actions are pitted against modern-day activists by mainstream media and conservatives alike. They parrot their favorite, decontextualized sound-byte from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to silence today’s racial justice advocates, doing so without regard for Dr. King’s persistent fight against police brutality, capitalism, and U.S. militarism. They forget that he warned of “white moderates” as the “great stumbling block” to freedom, and that “the whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the founda­tions of our nation until the bright days of justice emerge.” Today, more Americans use the name and legacy of Dr. King to maintain the status quo, to silence fighters for justice, and to ensure what Dr. King lamented as an “obnoxious peace”:

King recounts a conversation with someone who suggested the bus boycott was destroying race relations and peace in the community, and responds, “Yes, it is true that if the Negro [accepts] his place, accepts exploitation, and injustice, there will be peace. But it would be an obnoxious peace.” —When Peace Becomes Obnoxious

From Montgomery to Ferguson to Baltimore…

The more things change, the more they stay the same.