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Letter: Dr. King’s message challenged the system of power

On Martin Luther King Day, the Charlotte Observer’s editorial was entitled “Let’s Remember the MLK Who Wasn’t Liked.” It is a reminder that nearly 50 years ago, when Dr. King was assassinated, his influence seemed to be fading.

Many whites had heard enough, and the Black Power movement often accused him of being an Uncle Tom.

Dr. King himself had turned his focus to the idea that racial discrimination, like most conflicts in America, was primarily about money and wealth. This fact has not changed during the past half century.

I wonder how many of our local dignitaries, who marched down the street in this year’s MLK parade or attended the MLK breakfast, would agree with Dr. King when he demanded “a radical redistribution of political and economic power.”

Dr. King also said, “Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in an effort to re-educate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”

Today we tend to celebrate, as we should, Dr. King’s emphasis on extending love and peace to everyone. However, we should never forget that he was standing up against a vicious system steeped in ignorance and hatred. The courage required of those in the early civil rights movement has often been forgotten. Martin Luther King was a brave man who fought hard and died too young.

— Keiith Townsend

Mount Ulla

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