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By the end of his life, Martin Luther King realized the validity of violence.*Rs--uh9A83z2ei1ug0jl6A.jpeg

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking to war protestors at UN Plaza in New York, April 15, 1967. (AP)

  • The riots of 1967 changed how the great man saw the struggle.
  • By 1967 King had resigned himself to the riot as necessary action. 
  • Related: Eugene Debs and the Kingdom of Evil

Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, Timeline*cgmdd3zWbPEL1UOHYomBDw.jpeg The aftermath of rioting in Newark on July 14, 1967. (AP)

Jun 15, 2017 | the summer of 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. was less than a year away from his death. It’s impossible to say if he knew this, but he must have felt something on the horizon. To be so black and so visible and so dangerous to the status quo for so long meant that the bullet was already on its way toward him. By then he had somewhat resigned himself to the idea of the riot as a necessary form of action.

Just a year earlier, in a tense 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace, he insisted that the vast majority of black people in America still honored nonviolent resistance as the best way forward, but acknowledged that a rising group in the black community was now advocating for violent resistance. This interview is where his famous “a riot is the language of the unheard” quote originated, citing the newfound urgency facing black people. Just a few sentences later, often left out of our retelling of the quote, King warned of violence in the coming summers while also holding fast to his hope for nonviolence. “I would say that every summer we’re going to have this kind of vigorous protest,” he told Wallace. “My hope is that it will be nonviolent. I would hope that we can avoid riots because riots are self-defeating and socially destructive. I would hope that we can avoid riots, but that we would be as militant and as determined next summer and through the winter as we have been this summer.”

Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib: Poet. Writer. | Poetry editor @MuzzleMagazine | Author of The Crown Ain't Worth Much (@buttonpoetry) | Ohio 'Til I Die.

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Eugene Debs and the Kingdom of EvilChris Hedges, Truthdig Mr. Fish / Truthdig 

“Intellectual and moral growth is no less indispensable than material improvement,” Hugo writes in an appendix to “Les Misérables.” “Knowledge is a viaticum; thought is a prime necessity; truth is nourishment, like wheat. A reasoning faculty, deprived of knowledge and wisdom, pines away. We should feel the same pity for minds that do not eat as for stomachs. If there be anything sadder than a body perishing for want of bread, it is a mind dying of hunger for lack of light.”

Chris HedgesTruthdigis a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a best-selling author, an activist, a Presbyterian minister, a university teacher and a television host. He has written 12 books, including the New York Times best-seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco.







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