This is a guest post by Echo Zen. Echo is a feminist filmmaker, animator and women’s health advocate, currently deployed in the States to counter the influence of Tea Party moppets. When ze’s not doing ad consulting for birth control, ze tries to blog semi-regularly for Feministe (partly to set a good example for zir sister).

An elementary school teacher told a story to me once. I was still struggling to learn English, so over the course of the year I asked her often to retell the story.

Years ago in Alabama, the wife of a young preacher received a delivery of red carnations from her husband. They were beautiful, but as she touched them, she noticed they were artificial. When her husband came home, she asked about the flowers. He said, “I wanted to give you something that you could always keep.”

Less than a month later, Martin Luther King Jr. fell to an assassin’s bullet in Tennessee. His Poor People’s March on Washington, which King had planned in support of striking workers in Memphis, ultimately reached its destination without him. But though a fragment of lead may have struck down King in his prime, it did not silence his dream, crystallised 5 years earlier on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Like those red carnations, King’s message endured, carried forth by former colleagues and allies – including his own wife, Coretta Scott King. Over the next 50 years, they fought against apartheid in South Africa, armed conflict abroad, and even bigotry against LGBT Americans here at home.

It’s prescient that King’s dream continues to reflect today’s most pressing issues, as his message of hope manifests through the work of those who’ve succeeded King’s generation. Today’s advocates are fighting to create paths to citizenship for undocumented students, reduce inequalities between poor and wealthy, and defend women’s access to healthcare to protect their lives and futures. Disparate as these ends may seem, we can be confident King would have supported these efforts – not because his colleagues believe he would have, but because he voiced such support in his own words.

Indeed, often we forget how far-reaching King’s vision was. Brave for his time, it would have made him a target of controversy even today. In speeches, King called for governments to invest in programs to guarantee incomes for poor Americans. He came to identity with Latino workers and struggling rural whites, and advocated on their behalf through his work. His doctrine of non-violence led him to oppose the Vietnam War, a stance that outraged fellow civil rights allies – including his most powerful, President Lyndon Johnson, who’d expected King’s support after signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And in his final days, King worked with organised labour to call for an economic bill of rights to protect the disadvantaged.

This is not the King many remember, especially in the face of appeals to forget about race or class and pretend differences don’t exist. Doubtlessly he would have wanted future generations to recall a far different message. Would King be disappointed to see how relevant his message still is today? Or was foresight what led King to speak so enduringly when he spoke of his dream in 1963?

In fact, King saw the intersectionality between race, poverty, violence and class, long before movements like Occupy Wall Street popularised the notion that economic despair affects all parts of society, not just housing projects or ghettos. That recognition formed the basis of his call, on those Lincoln Memorial steps, for opportunities and rights to be made available to all – hence the name of his march that day, the March to Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

We neglect those last 4 words when we refer simply to a “March on Washington.” And we neglect the real themes of King’s dream when we quote only the snatches that modern pundits have twisted to argue that King wanted a colour-blind society: “they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.” Perhaps the true threat to King’s legacy is not that we forget his message, but oversimplify it. Without the context of King’s values, we may be led to believe King would have opposed programs to help poor blacks out of poverty because he wanted to avoid focusing on divisions, or that promoting diversity in higher education is wrong because he would have wanted us to think of ourselves only as Americans.

Were he here today, King would have had none of that. And if he could reach back to 1963 with an amended message for that generation, the underpinning of that message would remain the same – but with even greater emphasis on the need for fundamental societal change, to preempt insinuations that he simply wanted a change in the hearts of oppressors, then or now.

If King could bring our generation’s knowledge to 1963, perhaps he would have been tempted to voice bitterness at how a country united could continue to be a nation of contradictions – where the son of an African immigrant and a single mother from Kansas could one day became President, but where someone who shoots an unarmed teenager wearing a hoodie could be lauded by bigots as a defender of law and order.

But even knowing the cultural amnesia that would come to distress his legacy, King would have wanted to communicate above all a message of hope, as he did at the Lincoln Memorial. And ultimately he would have underlined his message with an exhortation sometimes lost even on our best lawmakers: People are the reason we advocate. All the talk in the world about fiscal cliffs, deficits and debt ceilings only masks the reality of human suffering, which eventually drove a preacher who’d never held office to reshape the world.

King believed in serving the underserved, feeding the poor, and assisting the sick. This was his message, one that will endure in relevance for decades to come. My elementary teacher, who’d hoped to impress this on us when we were young, didn’t live to see her students maturing into the advocates we are today. But we’ll impart this message to those who succeed us, and those yet to be.

We do this in her memory, and King’s.

What would King learn from us?

This is a guest post by Echo Zen. Echo is a feminist filmmaker, animator and women’s health advocate, now deployed in a States to opposite a change of Tea Party moppets. When ze’s not doing ad consulting for birth control, ze tries to blog semi-regularly for Feministe (partly to set a good instance for zir sister).

An facile propagandize clergyman told a story to me once. we was still struggling to learn English, so over a impetus of a year we asked her mostly to retell a story.

Years ago in Alabama, a mom of a immature reverend perceived a smoothness of red carnations from her husband. They were beautiful, nonetheless as she overwhelmed them, she beheld they were artificial. When her father came home, she asked about a flowers. He said, “I wanted to give we something that we could always keep.”

Less than a month later, Martin Luther King Jr. fell to an assassin’s bullet in Tennessee. His Poor People’s Mar on Washington, that King had designed in support of distinguished workers in Memphis, eventually reached a end though him. But nonetheless a bit of lead might have struck down King in his prime, it did not overpower his dream, crystallised 5 years progressing on a stairs of a Lincoln Memorial. Like those red carnations, King’s summary endured, carried onward by former colleagues and allies – including his possess wife, Coretta Scott King. Over a subsequent 50 years, they fought opposite apartheid in South Africa, armed dispute abroad, and even bigotry opposite LGBT Americans here during home.

It’s prophetic that King’s dream continues to simulate today’s many dire issues, as his summary of wish manifests by a work of those who’ve succeeded King’s generation. Today’s advocates are fighting to emanate paths to citizenship for undocumented students, revoke inequalities between bad and wealthy, and urge women’s entrance to medical to strengthen their lives and futures. Disparate as these ends might seem, we can be assured King would have upheld these efforts – not since his colleagues trust he would have, nonetheless since he uttered such support in his possess words.

Indeed, mostly we forget how inclusive King’s prophesy was. Brave for his time, it would have done him a aim of debate even today. In speeches, King called for governments to deposit in programs to guarantee incomes for bad Americans. He came to identity with Latino workers and struggling farming whites, and advocated on their interest by his work. His doctrine of non-violence led him to oppose a Vietnam War, a position that angry associate polite rights allies – including his many powerful, President Lyndon Johnson, who’d approaching King’s support after signing a Voting Rights Act of 1965. And in his final days, King worked with organized work to call for an mercantile check of rights to strengthen a disadvantaged.

This is not a King many remember, generally in a face of appeals to forget about competition or category and fake differences don’t exist. Doubtlessly he would have wanted destiny generations to remember a distant opposite message. Would King be unhappy to see how applicable his summary still is today? Or was foreknowledge what led King to pronounce so permanently when he spoke of his dream in 1963?

In fact, King saw a intersectionality between race, poverty, assault and class, prolonged before movements like Occupy Wall Street popularised a idea that mercantile despondency affects all tools of society, not usually housing projects or ghettos. That approval shaped a basement of his call, on those Lincoln Memorial steps, for opportunities and rights to be done accessible to all – hence a name of his impetus that day, a Mar to Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

We slight those final 4 difference when we impute simply to a “March on Washington.” And we slight a genuine themes of King’s dream when we quote usually a snatches that complicated pundits have disfigured to disagree that King wanted a colour-blind society: “they will not be judged by a colour of their skin nonetheless by a calm of their character.” Perhaps a loyal hazard to King’s bequest is not that we forget his message, nonetheless oversimplify it. Without a context of King’s values, we might be led to trust King would have opposed programs to assistance bad blacks out of poverty since he wanted to equivocate focusing on divisions, or that promoting farrago in aloft preparation is wrong since he would have wanted us to consider of ourselves usually as Americans.

Were he here today, King would have had nothing of that. And if he could strech behind to 1963 with an nice summary for that generation, a underpinning of that summary would sojourn a same – nonetheless with even larger importance on a need for elemental governmental change, to preempt insinuations that he simply wanted a change in a hearts of oppressors, afterwards or now.

If King could move a generation’s believe to 1963, maybe he would have been tempted to voice sourness during how a republic joined could continue to be a republic of contradictions – where a son of an African newcomer and a singular mom from Kansas could one day became President, nonetheless where someone who shoots an unarmed teen wearing a hoodie could be lauded by bigots as a defender of law and order.

But even meaningful a informative absentmindedness that would come to trouble his legacy, King would have wanted to promulgate above all a summary of hope, as he did during a Lincoln Memorial. And eventually he would have underlined his summary with an warning infrequently mislaid even on a best lawmakers: People are a reason we advocate. All a speak in a universe about mercantile cliffs, deficits and debt ceilings usually masks a existence of tellurian suffering, that eventually gathering a reverend who’d never hold bureau to reshape a world.

King believed in portion a underserved, feeding a poor, and aiding a sick. This was his message, one that will continue in aptitude for decades to come. My facile teacher, who’d hoped to stir this on us when we were young, didn’t live to see her students sappy into a advocates we are today. But we’ll explain this summary to those who attain us, and those nonetheless to be.

We do this in her memory, and King’s.