"As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent."
Malcolm X had led the way, among black radicals, slandering Martin Luther King Jr. in a June 24, 1963 interview titled "Negro and the American Promise"as an Uncle Tom who was teaching African Americans how to be defenseless:"To black militants, Dr. King represented a stubborn and persistent stumbling block in the path of the methods that had to be implemented to bring about a revolution in the present situation. And so, therefore, much hatred, much venom and much criticism was focused upon Dr. King by the black militants/And the contradiction in which he was caught up cast him in the role of one who was hated and held in contempt, both by the whites in America who did not want to free black people, and by black people who recognized the attitude of white America and who wanted to be rid of the self‐deceiving doctrine of nonviolence. Still, black militants were willing to sit back and watch, and allow Dr. King to play out his role. And his role has now been played out."
Dr. Kenneth Clark: I see. Well, Reverend Martin Luther King preaches a doctrine of non-violent insistence upon the rights of the American Negro. What is your attitude toward this philosophy?
Malcolm X: The white man pays Reverend Martin Luther King, subsidizes Reverend Martin Luther King, so that Reverend Martin Luther King can continue to teach the Negroes to be defenseless. That's what you mean by non-violent: be defenseless. Be defenseless in the face of one of the most cruel beasts that has ever taken a people into captivity. That's this American white man. And they have proved it throughout the country by the police dogs and the police clubs.
A hundred years ago they used to put on a white sheet and use a bloodhound against Negroes. Today they've taken off the white sheet and put on police uniforms, they've traded in the bloodhounds for police dogs, and they're still doing the same thing. And just as Uncle Tom, back during slavery, used to keep the Negroes from resisting the bloodhound, or resisting the Ku Klux Klan, by teaching them to love their enemy, or pray for those who use them spitefully, today Martin Luther King is just a 20th century or modern Uncle Tom, or a religious Uncle Tom, who is doing the same thing today, to keep Negroes defenseless in the face of an attack, that Uncle Tom did on the plantation to keep those Negroes defenseless in the face of the attacks of the Klan in that day.
"When they threw eggs at me in New York, I think that was really a result of the Black Nationalist groups. They had heard all of these things about my being soft, my talking about love, and they transferred that bitterness toward the white man to me. They began to feel that I was saying to love this person that they had such a bitter attitude toward. In fact, Malcolm X had a meeting the day before, and he talked about me a great deal and told them that I would be there the next night and said, "You ought to go over there and let old King know what you think about him." And he had said a great deal about nonviolence, criticizing nonviolence, and saying that I approved of Negro men and women being bitten by dogs and the fire hoses. So I think this kind of response grew out of all of the talk about my being a sort of polished Uncle Tom.
My feeling has always been that they have never understood what I was saying. They did not see that there's a great deal of difference between nonresistance to evil and nonviolent resistance. Certainly I'm not saying that you sit down and patiently accept injustice. I'm talking about a very strong force, where you stand up with all your might against an evil system, and you're not a coward. You are resisting, but you come to see that tactically as well as morally it is better to be nonviolent. Even if one didn't want to deal with the moral question, it would just be impractical for the Negro to talk about making his struggle violent."
Malcolm X, prior to his February 21, 1965 assassination revealed that in 1961 he had met secretly with the Klu Klux Klan, representing the Nation of Islam, to divide up the United States along racial lines. He was also an admirer of Mao Zedong.
Malcolm X had also begun to evolve towards King's position, and rejected the head of the Nation of Islam. In a letter dated September 22, 1964 from Mecca, Saudi Arabia addressed to a friend in New York he explained his break.
“I declare emphatically that I am no longer in Elijah Muhammad's ‘strait jacket,’ and I don't intend to replace his with one woven by someone else. I am a Muslim in the most orthodox sense; my religion is Islam as it is believed in and practiced by the Muslims here in the Holy City of Mecca.
“This religion recognizes all men as brothers. It accepts all human beings as equals before ‐God, and as equal members in the Human Family of Mankind. I totally reject Elijah Muhammad's racist philosophy, which he has labeled ‘Islam’ only to fool and misuse gullible people, as he fooled and misused me. But I blame only myself, and no one else for the fool that I was, and the harm that my evangelic foolishness in his behalf has done to others.”
Malcolm wrote that he was neither anti‐American, un-American, seditious nor subversive, but an open‐minded man who was trying to weigh everything objectively."
|Carmichael clapping at Organization of Latin American Solidarity in Havana (1967).|
Many Leftists highlight the FBI's spying and active measures against Martin Luther King Jr., but only a handful discuss the campaign of active measures by the Soviet KGB, and the desire that Reverend King be replaced by someone they could control such as Stokely Carmichael.
The Challenge of Marxism
During the Christmas holidays of 1949 I decided to spend my spare time reading Karl Marx to try to understand the appeal of communism for many people. For the first time I carefully scrutinized Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto. I also read some interpretive works on the thinking of Marx and Lenin. In reading such Communist writings I drew certain conclusions that have remained with me to this day.
First I rejected their materialistic interpretation of history. Communism, avowedly secularistic and materialistic, has no place for God.4 This I could never accept, for as a Christian I believe that there is a creative personal power in this universe who is the ground and essence of all reality—a power that cannot be explained in materialistic terms. History is ultimately guided by spirit, not matter.
Second, I strongly disagreed with communism’s ethical relativism. Since for the Communist there is no divine government, no absolute moral order, there are no fixed, immutable principles; consequently almost anything—force, violence, murder, lying—is a justifiable means to the “millennial” end.5 This type of relativism was abhorrent to me. Constructive ends can never give absolute moral justification to destructive means, because in the final analysis the end is preexistent in the mean.
Third, I opposed communism’s political totalitarianism. In communism the individual ends up in subjection to the state. True, the Marxist would argue that the state is an “interim” reality which is to be eliminated when the classless society emerges; but the state is the end while it lasts, and man only a means to that end. And if any man’s so-called rights or liberties stand in the way of that end, they are simply swept aside. His liberties of expression, his freedom to vote, his freedom to listen to what news he likes or to choose his books are all restricted. Man becomes hardly more, in communism, than a depersonalized cog in the turning wheel of the state.
This deprecation of individual freedom was objectionable to me. I am convinced now, as I was then, that man is an end because he is a child of God. Man is not made for the state; the state is made for man. To deprive man of freedom is to relegate him to the status of a thing, rather than elevate him to the status of a person. Man must never be treated as a means to the end of the state, but always as an end within himself.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a radical in the sense that he was going to the root of things, and seeking solutions informed by his Christian faith. Reverend King was a Christian Democrat who sought to narrow the gap between the wealthy and the poor with a politics focused on the person because "he is a child of God." The "Beloved Community" seeks justice for all not through a violent class struggle, but through a "critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence."
Not all that joined him could follow him down this road. Stokely Carmichael enrolled in Howard University and joined "the school's Non-Violent
Action Group, a civil-rights organization. In 1961 he participated in a
number of anti-segregation initiatives in the Deep South, including "freedom rides" organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Carmichael graduated from Howard University in 1964, with a degree in philosophy. Two years later he replaced John Lewis as head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Followers of King that viewed him as not being sufficiently radical abandoned him and criticized him. Stokely Carmichael who had derisively called the 1963 March on Washington, a "middle class picnic" left the nonviolent Civil Rights movement and rejected King's approach.
The Black Panther
Party was founded in 1966 and was influenced by Robert F. Williams, a black militant nationalist living in Cuba from 1961 until 1966 then moving to Maoist China in the midst of the Cultural Revolution and stayed there until 1969. Members of the Black Panther Party were reading Che Guevara's books on Guerrilla Warfare and applying it on the streets of America to deadly effect.
In 1967 Carmichael was interviewed by Mario Menendez, editor of Sucesos, a Mexican magazine, while he was staying in Havana, Cuba attending
the Organization of Latin American Solidarity (OLAS), a communist
alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and made claims about the SNCC that others would reject:
"Now, we used the word nonviolent because at that time the central figure in the struggle to defend the black race was no one less than Martin Luther King and anyone who resorted to violence was considered a traitor. Consequently we resolved to use the word nonviolent. However we knew that our struggle would end up in violence, that it was only necessary to wait for the right time. So we accepted this name for the grouping and coordinated activities from city to city, wherever we could engage in nonviolent demonstrations."
Stokely Carmichael told an audience in Havana in 1967: ''We are moving toward guerrilla warfare in the United States. We are going to develop urban guerrilla warfare and we are going to beat them in this field because there is one thing the imperialists do not have: their men don't want to fight, they don't want to fight what they call guerilla warfare, which is really hand-to-hand combat."
He believed that, "[u]rban
guerrilla warfare is the only means by which we can win in the United
States because they cannot use bombs against us, since we are inside the
country. They will have to fight us in hand-to-hand combat and we will
On February 17, 1968 H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael addressed the Oakland Auditorium. Carmichael made the case for armed insurrection:
"We have to recognize the major enemy is the honky and his institutions of racism." ... "Whenever anyone prepares for revolutionary warfare you concentrate on the major enemy." ... "We will not fight each other. There will be no fights in the black community among black people. There will just be people who will be offed." ... "We must first develop an undying love for our people ... an undying love as is personified in brother Huey P. Newton ... If we do not do that, we will be wiped out."
1992 a high ranking Russian intelligence officer defected to the
United Kingdom and brought with him notes and transcripts compiled over
the previous thirty years as he moved entire foreign intelligence
archives to a new headquarters just outside of Moscow. The Russian
intelligence officer’s name was Vasili Mitrokhin and the information he
gathered became known as The Mitrokhin Archive. In the groundbreaking book, The Sword and the The Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB
by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin published in 1999 details
were obtained from The Mitrokhin Archive on Soviet efforts to replace Martin Luther King Jr. with a “more radical and malleable leader” such as Stokeley Carmichael to provoke a race war in the United States. Andrew Mitrokhin, in their book, outlined the KGB's active measures to achieve the goal of race war in America and mentioned Carmichael's visit to Cuba in 1967.
King’s assassination on April 4, 1968 was quickly followed by the violence and rioting which the KGB had earlier blamed King for trying to prevent. Within a week riots erupted in over a hundred cities, forty-six people had been killed, 3,500 injured and 20,000 arrested."
Stokely Carmichael would go on to become "prime minister" of the Black Panther Party in 1968 and left for Africa in 1969 as America's cities burned following the Reverend King's assassination. The violence continued into the 1970s.
Setting the record straight
The false claim made by Holly Genovose in Teen Vogue on April 4, 2018 to a new generation of youngsters that the Black Panthers and Martin Luther King Jr shared "many of the same ideologies," must be challenged. She should have revisited the interview in 2017 with John Lewis, who rejected the violence of both Carmichael and Malcolm X. There is a world of difference between the social democracy and beloved community advocated by Martin Luther King Jr., and the Maoist revolutionary vision advocated by the Black Panthers who viewed King's nonviolent movement as an obstacle. Genovese also failed to mention that King had been a target of active measures by the KGB, while highlighting the terrible history of the FBI towards the Civil Rights leader.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech reaffirmed his commitment to nonviolent change
Reverend King outlined the purpose of the overall nonviolent struggle in broad terms in his final speech on April 3, 1968:
"And that's all this whole thing is about. We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying -- We are saying that we are God's children. And that we are God's children, we don't have to live like we are forced to live."
He spoke of the importance of maintaining unity, noting how in Ancient
Egypt pharaoh had sought to maintain control over his slaves by having
them fight among themselves. King then explained the failings of violence, even a little violence and the specific issues of the campaign for the sanitation workers.
"Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn't get around to that."King addressed the resilience and persistence of the Civil Rights movement to resist water cannons and police dogs, and the restraining order to block the march, challenging the authorities to live up to the American traditions of liberty and the rule of law.
"Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on."
Martin Luther King Jr explained the superior power of nonviolent resistance in concrete terms.
"Now the other thing we'll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively -- that means all of us together -- collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That's power right there, if we know how to pool it.
We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don't need any bricks and bottles. We don't need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say,
"God sent us by here, to say to you that you're not treating his children right. And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you."And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy -- what is the other bread? -- Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on town -- downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.
But not only that, we've got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a "bank-in" movement in Memphis. Go by the savings and loan association. I'm not asking you something that we don't do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We are telling you to follow what we are doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an "insurance-in."
Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here."
The following day they had won in court
and the march was on. The civil rights leaders were in good spirits.
Reverend King had been suffering from a fever and had been resting
throughout the day, but feeling better he got dressed to go out to dinner at 5:30pm.
Less than 24 hours after his historic speech, the 39 year old Baptist Minister and Nobel Laureate was struck down by a sniper's bullet at the Lorraine Motel and by 6:03pm he lay there dying. Andrew Young checked and found a slight pulse. King was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. at St. Joseph Hospital.
|Lorraine Motel 4/4/68: Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson, MLK Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Hosea Williams,|
"When White America killed Dr. King last night, it declared war on us. There will be no crying there will be no funerals. The rebellions that have been occurring around the cities of this country is just light stuff to what is about to happen. We have to retaliate for the deaths of our leaders. The executions of those deaths won't be in the courtroom but in the streets of the United States of America. Last night we led all of those youngsters up and down the street to close every store in this area. Because Dr. King was shot and they should have closed those doors. Now some of them kicked glass door windows in. We are not stopping them from kicking in the store windows. We are stopping them from coming out on the streets without guns. When they come out on the streets we want them with guns. If they don't have guns we won't let them throw bricks and bottles, but when they get guns we will be out on the street."
Carmichael had already been advocating for armed insurrection
on American streets prior to Dr. King's assassination and on February
17, 1968 explicitly made the case for "offing" blacks who did not agree
with hm. Following the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Carmichael's
threat was made reality. Newsweek reported
that "riots broke out in dozens of cities across the United States. The
rampage left 39 dead, 21,000 arrested, more than 2,600 injured and was
responsible for damages estimated at $65 million." The negative impact for black communities is still felt today.
Meanwhile in Memphis the local government met the demands that had been made by Reverend King and the striking sanitation workers.
The King family held solemn services for Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia, attended by thousands including the Vice President of the United States, Hubert Humphrey and then former Vice President Richard Nixon.
Coretta Scott King requested that King eulogize himself: His last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a recording of his famous 'Drum Major' sermon, given on February 4, 1968, was played at the funeral. The King family went on to found the King Center and continued his nonviolent legacy to the present day. Other activists from King's inner circle continued their civil rights work, while some, like John Lewis, entered political life and continued the long hard journey to realize Reverend King's beloved community.