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Occupy Wall Street, Patti Smith, Russell Simmons to Honor the Spirit of Dr. King with Vigil at Riverside Church

Occupy Wall Street, Patti Smith, Russell Simmons to Honor the Spirit of Dr. King with Vigil at Riverside Church

In the past week The Sparrow Project has had the privilege to work closely with Occupy Wall Street to coordinate, promote, and execute a PR campaign surrounding a massive global solidarity event honoring the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Continuing King’s message of non-violence, racial equality and economic justice Occupy Wall Street & the #J15 Organizing Committee have crafted a luminous movement towards global systemic change.  Below is our press release for the event and a roundup of press coverage that includes interviews with Occupiers and Sparrow volunteers.

Religious leaders, artists, and members of the Occupy movement will unite globally on January 15th, 2012 to honor the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  At 6:30 p.m. in New York City hundreds of Occupy Wall Street activists will assemble on the steps of the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Avenue) and at 7:00 p.m. begin a massive candlelight march to nearby Riverside Church (490 Riverside Drive). The group will join additional feeder marches and members of the community at Riverside Church for a candlelight vigil and celebration renewing King’s message of peace, justice, and equality for all, regardless of race or economic class. The action will culminate in an assembly featuring performances and speak-outs from artists, celebrities, religious leaders, and activists. Performances by Patti Smith, Steve Earle, Stephan Said, and Kozza Olantunji, as well as many more, will complement the inspirational words of Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Yoko Ono, Russell Simmons, Reverend Stephen H. Phelps, Daisey Kahn, Norman Siegel, Sumumba Sobukwe and Malik Rhasaan of Occupy the Hood.

“Poverty, an issue to which King showed increased focus in the years just before his death, finds its way into the darkest chapters in American History. Dr. King sought to shine a light of justice against those dark chapters of war, repression and racism, our candles symbolize that light,” says Abigail Keegan of Occupy Wall Street.


“These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. ‘The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.’” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

 Riverside Church has been an intersection of faith and social justice in the greater New York metropolitan area for over 80 years. At Riverside in 1967, Dr. King gave his historic “Beyond Vietnam” speech. On King’s birthday and in the spirit of his vision for racial and economic equality, peace, and non-violence, activists will return to Riverside in solidarity with others holding candlelight vigils from California to Cairo; New York to New Orleans; Germany to Nova Scotia, to unite our world in a global movement for systemic change. The Riverside Church (www.theriversidechurchny.org) is an interracial, interdenominational and international church built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1927. The 1,200-member Riverside Church in Morningside Heights has a rich tradition of providing a forum for important civic and spiritual leaders. Past speakers include: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President William J. Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Fidel Castro, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

This candlelight vigil kicks off more than 24 hours of Occupy Wall Street-organized events and actions including a march on Monday, Jan. 16th at 9am from the African Burial Ground to the Federal Reserve Bank for a rally for economic justice. For more information about the January 15th action visit http://j15global.org

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Occupy Wall Street & the Legacy of Martin Luther King

Occupy Wall Street & the Legacy of Martin Luther King

 

I’ve been pondering a lot about Martin Luther King, lately; more than usual. Every day, down at Liberty Plaza, I can’t help but think that, had he not been murdered, he would be with us. This was especially salient on Tuesday night, October 18, when I did the People’s Mic with Jesse Jackson. Whatever one thinks of Rev. Jackson’s politics, the man was an associate of the late, great Dr. King. The image of a young Jackson, standing to the right of Dr. King, on that fateful Memphis balcony, is emblazoned on the collective conscious of all who revere justice.

I’ve long been awash in indignation at the co-opting of King’s legacy. Much as the capitalist war-makers have done with other historical figures who devoted themselves to peace and justice, Dr. King has been hijacked and bowdlerized; molded into a neat little figure who fits nicely into Americana.  The egregiousness of this was never clearer or more infuriating than in the recent dedication of the National Memorial to this great person.  Here were Republicans and Democrats (as if there is a difference), marionettes of Wall Street and the Military/Prison Industrial Complex, sanctimoniously celebrating a man whom they would incarcerate, were he still alive. They wish to portray King, selectively, as a Civil Rights leader, and nothing else. They ignore the fact that, for the last three years of his short life, King identified himself as a “Democratic Socialist.” This is the man who characterized capitalism as economic violence and exhorted us to ask, “’Why are there forty million poor people [He would be horrified by today’s total] in America?’” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy.”
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» [related content] Jesse Jackson speaks about OWS & the 1968 Poor Peoples March organized by he and Dr. King on Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann «

Barack Obama spews platitudes of reverence to King, yet enacts policies that would have the latter in fits of apoplexy. This president has received more money for his re-election campaign from Wall Street than any other candidate, in history, and the election is still more than a year away.

This president has deported more than one million people, since taking office, in January, 2009.

This president has expanded the murder machine of war, so that the US is killing innocent people, en masse, in Iraq; Afghanistan; Pakistan; Yemen; Libya, et al. The sabers of iniquity are rattling against Iran, now. Wall Street’s lackey must ensure that everyone join the IMF.

This president has abrogated further the Constitution, vis a vis the First Amendment rights of the nation’s citizenry.

This president has aided and abetted the capitalist class’s assault on labor. While he stole millions from the unions, promising to enact EFCA, he has appointed Goldman alumna to his cabinet. His big mouth was conspicuously silent, when Wisconsin begged for support, earlier this year.

Let us remember that Dr. King, after being harassed for years by the very government which now seeks to siphon off of his legacy by dedicating a memorial to a fraction of the person, was murdered just hours after addressing striking sanitation workers, in Memphis.

 So, as I stand/sit/march/scream at Liberty Plaza, I cannot help but think that, if indeed there is another plain of existence to which we go, after our corpora expire, Dr. King is smiling down in solidarity on us, at Liberty Plaza, and shaking his head, in shame, at the Wall Street-Washington cabal that tries to usurp his great legacy.

Arthur Smilios is an unapologetic anti-capitalist, musician rabble rouser.   Arthur was the co-founder of the seminal New York punk band the Gorilla Biscuits. Since his days of performing “Cats & Dogs” (a song that encouraged thousands to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle)  Arthur has strived to braid his art with his passion for social justice.  The Sparrow Project has invited Arthur to continue to sound off on the issues he holds most dear through their blog on https://sparrowmedia.net .  Arthur’s articles are written exclusively in his own voice, and may not reflect the views of The Sparrow Project.