At the dedication of the national Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial last Sunday, the Rev. Bernice King said her father Dr. King would support the 99 Percent Movement: “I hear my father saying what we are seeing now all across the streets of America and the world is a freedom explosion.” She reminded the nation that civil rights leader worked not just for racial justice, but for economic justice as well. “We should never adjust to the one percent controlling more than 40 percent of the wealth,” she said.
Florida Rep. Allen West (R), however, was “born and raised” in the same town that Dr. King grew up in. Therefore, he asserted as a fact today in a Newsmax interview that “Martin Luther King, Jr. would not back these types of protesters”:
WEST: I was born and raised in the same town that Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up in. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not have backed these type of protesters. First of all, Martin Luther King, Jr. had a focus, he had a message. He was divinely inspired. I don’t know what the inspiration is for these individuals.
Unfortunately for West, geographical proximity clearly did not provide West any insight into the man himself. Like the 99 percent movement, King consistently called for economic justice. He critiqued unregulated free marketism as a system that permits “necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few.” He envisioned a “Poor People’s Campaign” in which a multiracial coalition would march through the capital to “demand that President Lyndon Johnson and Congress help the poor get jobs, health care, and decent homes.”
King was assassinated just weeks before the march on May 12, 1968. Rev. Ralph Abernathy carried his legacy to DC, stating, “We come with an appeal to open the doors of America to the almost 50 million Americans who have not been given a fair share of American’s wealth and opportunity, and we will stay until we get it.” This, incidentally, is what the 99 Percent Movement is about.
This, however, is also what West sees as “contradictory to the foundational principles and values that we have in the United States.” If West grew up anywhere near Dr. King and his legacy, he has now turned his back on him.