“You don’t play with Martin Luther King, Jr. and you
don’t play with his people, said West. “By his people, I
mean people of good conscience, fundamentally good
people committed to peace and truth and justice,
especially the Black tradition that produced it.
“All of the blood, sweat and tears that went into
producing a Martin Luther King, Jr. generated a brother
of such high decency and dignity that you don’t use his
prophetic fire for a moment of presidential pageantry
without understanding the challenge he represents to all
of those in power regardless of what color they are.
“The righteous indignation of a Martin Luther King, Jr.
becomes a moment of political calculation. And that
makes my blood boil. Why? Because Martin Luther King, Jr
died…he died…for the three crimes against humanity that
he was wrestling with. Jim Crow, traumatizing,
terrorizing, stigmatizing Black people. Lynching, not
just ‘segregation’ as the press likes to talk about.
“Second: Carpet bombing in Vietnam killing innocent
people, especially innocent children, those are war
crimes that Martin Luther King , Jr. was willing to die
for. And thirdly, was poverty of all colors, he said it
is a crime against humanity for the richest nation in
the world to have so many of it’s precious children of
all colors living in poverty and especially on the
chocolate side of the nation, and on Indian reservations
and Brown barrios and yellow slices and Black
ghettos — we call them hoods now, but ghettos then.
“So I said to myself ain’t nothing wrong with putting
your hand on the bible, even though the bible’s talking
about justice, Jesus is talking about the least of
these, but when you put it on Martin’s bible, I said
‘this is personal for me,’ because this is the tradition
that I come out of.”
“Brother Martin Luther King, Jr., what you say about the
New Jim Crow? What would say about the Prison Industrial
Complex? What would you say about the invisibility of so
many of our prisoners, so many of our incarcerated,
especially when 62 percent of them are there for soft
drugs and not one executive of a Wall Street bank gone
to jail. Not one. Martin doesn’t like that. Not one
wire-tapper, not one torturer under the Bush
Administration — all,” said West.
“Then what would he say about the drones on the precious
brothers and sisters in Pakistan, and Somalia, and
Yemen. Those are war crimes, just like war crimes in
Vietnam, Martin Luther King, Jr., what would you say?”