Martin Luther King Used The Protest March, But Had A Warning About The Method
On April 4th, 1967, Martin Luther King delivered a powerful speech denouncing the Vietnam War saying, among other things, that the war represented a “deeper malady” in the American spirit. Eleven day later, massive crowds hit the street in New York and San Francisco to protest American involvement in Vietnam.
Since then counter culture groups have used huge street protests as a way to make a statement against the ruling elites and controversial policies adopted by the U.S. government.
Gigantic street protests have re-surged in recent years after long periods when millions of people marking in the street had become a relatively rare event. It could be said this uniquely counter culture form of protest made a big comeback in 2011 when the upstart Occupy Wall Street movement drove millions of protesters back into the streets.
Today, massive protests are a several-times-per year event. Consider the recent Women’s March in cities across the U.S., or the many public rallies that have come out against or support of the policies of President Trump.
One might think the spirit of Martin Luther King would be smiling down on the enduring legacy of something he helped create in American society – the massive peaceful public protest march.
But Dr. King also had a warning. He said that a protest march is nice, but that if the underlying problems which spur such events are not addressed on a deeper level, King said people will “ … find ourselves … marching … and attending rallies without end.”
In other words, Dr. King seemed to understand that a true counter culture movement must be about more than shouting and marching in the streets. To solve real problems, deep changes in policy and social consciousness must be made – and that’s where the hard work truly begins.