Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday celebration is the greatest sheer spectacle of hypocrisy and historical duplicity of the year, as Black misleaders take center stage to claim his mandate and mission on behalf of a corporate party.
The birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is commemorated each year at thousands of events in literally every U.S. city, yet the martyred human rights leader’s political philosophy is totally absent from the agenda of today’s Black Misleadership Class. These folks are a grasping cabal of hustlers and opportunists that have grown fat and infinitely corrupt through their collaboration with “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.”
Their “freedom train” was the Democratic Party, the half of the corporate electoral duopoly that allowed colored folks to ride as first-class passengers—as long as they didn’t question the schedule or the destination. The budding Black misleaders hopped on board the Democratic Party express to the boardrooms of corporate power at about the same time that Dr. King was making his definitive break with the evil “triplets’” infernal machinery, including both corporate parties.
In his April 4, 1967 “Beyond Vietnam—A Time to Break Silence” speech at New York City’s Riverside Church, Dr. King burned his bridges with the nation’s top Democrat. He did so despite President Lyndon Johnson’s indispensable role in pushing civil and voting rights and anti-poverty bills through Congress and championing an affirmative action rationale that was a principled endorsement of reparations for crimes committed against Black people by the U.S.
Yet, Dr. King, a proponent of peace and democratic socialism understood that the way to the “Promised Land” was not through Black collaboration with the evils inherent in capitalism and its ceaseless, predatory wars. “I have come to believe that we are integrating into a burning house,” King told his friend Harry Belafonte.
By 1967, the War in Vietnam was consuming the promises of Johnson’s Great Society. America was undeniably the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” King declared. The U.S. had already killed a million Vietnamese, “mostly children,” but it was also a war on America’s poor.
“I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube,” King told the crowd at Riverside. That meant breaking with the Democrats and their president.
The National Security State, the protector of the capitalist order, to which both parties are beholden, then proceeded to crush the Black movement to the left of Dr. King. By 1970, the Black Radical tradition lay mostly in the graveyard, and the way was clear for the Black Misleadership Class to monopolize Black politics on behalf of their corporate overseers.
The rise of the almost entirely Democrat-allied Black Misleadership Class is perfectly coterminous with the construction of the Black Mass Incarceration State. The “New Jim Crow” was a bipartisan project, initiated under Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, which vastly increased the manpower and funding for local police departments. It was put in hyper-drive by Republican President Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs”—a War on Blacks that never ended, but was re-declared by Ronald Reagan and reinforced by Bill Clinton.
At the local level, the exponential growth of the Mass Black Incarceration regime was administered by increasingly Black city governments, which oversaw and processed the deportation of millions of Black men, women, and children to the Prison Gulag.
By 2014, 80% of the Congressional Black Caucus was voting to continue the Pentagon 1033 program that funnels billions of dollars in military weapons and gear to local police departments. Four years later, 75% of the Black Caucus voted to make police a “protected class” and assault on cops a federal crime.
Half of the Blacks in Congress voted to continue the bombing and regime change in Libya, an African nation, in the summer of 2011. None of the Caucus has raised serious objections to the U.S.-aided slaughter of more than 6 million Congolese under Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump. The American military occupation of much of the African continent through AFRICOM is also a non-issue among the Black misleaders.
Russia, on the other hand, is an existential threat “to our democracy,” say the Black Democrats, who are eager to pledge their allegiance to the same CIA and National Security State that assassinated Patrice Lumumba, murdered Malcolm, King, and scores of Black Panthers, and worked hand-in-glove with White-ruled South Africa to kill thousands of freedom fighters across the continent.
The Black misleaders are as silly as they are shameless, but they are not ineffectual. No White man could eviscerate Dr. King’s radical legacy, or make Malcolm X appear harmless to the imperial order—that’s a job for the Black Misleadershsip Class. While Dr. King rejected an alliance with the “triple evils,” Black Democratic misleaders describe their deal with the Devil as smart, “strategic” politics.
Glen Ford is the executive editor of Black Agenda Report.