“What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?”
On the fortieth anniversary of his assassination, eulogies on the life of Martin Luther King Jr come cheap, and often from the most unlikely quarters. The gesture is by now an almost obligatory one for American politicians, including many who have devoted the years since King’s death to overturning the very reforms that the black freedom movement managed to force out of a reluctant ruling class. Thus we have the spectacle of a deeply unpopular George Bush, the pampered son of an elite dynasty whose legacy will forever be associated with the twin crimes of Iraq and New Orleans, offering up pious homage to a man whose public life embodied a commitment to struggle against everything his administration has stood for.
There are slightly less offensive, but equally misplaced, pieties on offer from other sources. Over the past generation public memory of the civil rights movement in the US has been powerfully shaped by the corporate right, which throughout the 1950s and early 1960s had been implacably opposed to King and the movement.1 Today mega-corporations such as McDonald’s and Walmart—whose profits in the US depend so heavily on the exploitation of cheap, non-unionised black labour—have assumed the role of guardians of the civil rights legacy, sponsoring school curricula with titles like “Black History Makers of Tomorrow”
Continued at:- http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=425&issue=118