Every year, our nation poetically recalls Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But most who remember Dr. King water down his legacy as a socialist critic of military industrial corruption. Liberals tend to recall his inspiring odes to color blindness, while conveniently overlooking his broader vision.

Can you support our efforts today to pursue the radical vision of MLK and others before him who dreamed not of a color blind neoliberal fantasy, but rather of a world actually free of economic, racial, and political injustice?

First, Dr. King issued blistering critiques of how racism, militarism, and capitalism intersect, as well as the complicity of “the white moderate” who settles for order at the cost of justice. While the civil rights movement that he helped lead is celebrated today for its victories, it was ultimately denied its most transformative goals.

Second, his experience at the hands of government intelligence agencies revealed a layer of corruption enabled by the intersecting evils that he observed. For years, the FBI monitored him, and actively worked to neutralize his voice by (among other things) blackmailing him and encouraging him to commit suicide.

Finally, King effectively forecast the climate crisis that emerged decades after his assassination. Today, humanity confronts an advancing global catastrophe that we could have averted had Washington heeded his voice instead of vilifying him.

As our nation continues to stumble into moral and policy pitfalls that he identified over half a century ago, the real legacy of Dr. King’s work grows only more relevant with every passing day.

Can you support our campaign today to breathe new life into that legacy, and continue the struggle for human rights that MLK and others began?  

Most Americans today remember the civil rights movement as a story of triumph. In this age of racial reckoning, we should remember, however, that the most pressing demands of civil rights organizations in the 1960s—like the right to be able to buy a hamburger, or to be free from foreign wars for conquest and corporate plunder—were rejected in favor of voting rights and anti-discrimination principles.

Not only were the movement’s greatest aspirations frustrated, but even the important concessions extracted from the establishment have withered in the years since then. The Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in its 2013 Shelby County decision, setting the stage for today’s attacks on democracy unfolding in state legislatures across the country.

While the civil rights movement was righteous, and appealed to the best parts of our nation’s conscience, it fell on the shoals of the continuing racism that many liberals have come to recognize only recently.

Remember MLK not as a triumphant victor over injustice, but rather as a tragic victim of it whose work remains unfinished today.

Can you join us today to continue pressing to enshrine in policy the crucial human rights that MLK was killed for pursuing?

King’s experience also illuminates another dimension of white supremacy beyond racism: its aspect of preserving existing power.

Most Americans today think of Dr. King as a national hero. In his own time, however, he endured vicious attacks from our government before he was taken from us. The FBI actively spied on him. Paid government agents encouraged him to commit suicide. He faced critics from across the political spectrum who had been driven to hate him by propaganda.

On the one hand, while King’s experience at the hands of the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPRO) were secret at the time, they were eventually revealed by the Church and Pike committee investigations that birthed today’s Senate and House Intelligence committees.

And the discovery of those programs and their voluminous abuses helped prompt legal restrictions. Congress passed statutes including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), while the executive branch also issued guidance, like the Attorney General’s Guidelines put in place to avert the imposition of a statutory charter to constrain the Bureau.

On the other hand, the various legal restrictions imposed on the agencies during the Watergate era have all been watered down to once again enable similar domestic surveillance abuses. FISA was gutted in 2009 with the support of then Senator Barack Obama, while the Attorney General’s Guidelines have been diluted on at least half a dozen occasions since they were imposed in 1979.

Our government’s attacks on dissent by figures including MLK inspired my work over the past two decades to address the assault on our democracy from the FBI to local police departments. No candidate for public office in the country has done more to challenge secret government surveillance over the past twenty years.

Do you want a voice in Congress who has enabled executive branch abuses for decades, or instead one who has fought for decades to expose and end them?

Beyond demonstrating the effectiveness of government marginalizing dissent, and the continuing frustrations of a movement whose aims have yet to be secured in policy, King also named the precursors to the climate crisis. It has grown to the point of global catastrophe precisely because, under the leadership of both corporate political parties, Washington chose to follow the money, ignoring his warnings.

Today, we all the pay the price. It will weigh even more heavily on the future.

In King’s era, scientists had already come to recognize the greenhouse effect. Fossil fuel companies would soon start working to suppress public awareness of its profound implications. Public concern about the climate crisis would take another generation, but even in his own time, King named its components—consumerism, racism, and militarism—as “intersecting evils.”

Millennials and Zoomers concerned about the climate crisis are right to bemoan the failures that preceded them. The world they inherit has been effectively poisoned, from the oceans to the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the slavish dedication to capital that continues to drive federal policy ensures that the plunder, for now, will only continue.

But those failures are not those of older generations. Indeed, they’re failures of not any generation, but rather a set of effectively permanent corporate institutions that outlive and co-opt them all. Dr. King championed the very same interests of today’s intersectional climate activists over 60 years ago.

History has proven King’s prescience. It grows only more profound by the day.

Do you want to be represented in Washington by a voice who is not only aware of this history, but has also worked for decades to challenge the intersecting evils named by MLK?

It’s long past time for Washington, and Americans, to finally heed the lessons that Dr. King tried to teach—as well as those we could learn from the establishment’s vicious response to him in his own era, and its continuing attempts to water down and neutralize his legacy today.

May the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. be a blessing to all of us.