Happy Martin Luther King Day! We honor the memory of Dr. King, a brave martyr in the long struggle to achieve equal rights for black workers in the racist hellhole of the United States of America.
As the recent worldwide protests against the wanton disregard for the lives of black workers by the US government and its police state agencies can attest, the struggle for equal rights for black workers in the USA is far from over. The Independent Workers Party of Chicago seeks to create an integrated revolutionary Trotskyist workers party to organize the US working class to smash racism and the capitalist system that requires it in order to divide and conquer the workers movement and to maintain the class rule of the numerically tiny US capitalist class. The capitalist system needs to foment racism in order to function properly; it must keep the working class at each others’ throats so the capitalists can continue to exploit the workers effectively, squeezing profits from its wage-slaves while we fight among ourselves. Capitalism needs racism like a fish needs water! In order to smash racism we must first overthrow the capitalist system that creates, enforces and reinforces racism 24/7/365. To believe that we can smash racism while keeping capitalism is to believe in the impossible!
Every Martin Luther King Day workers in the US and all around the capitalist world are subjected to wall-to-wall propaganda from the US government and US capitalist enterprises cynically pretending to to pay “tribute” to MLK. The racist, warmongering capitalists pay the tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. that vice always pays to virtue, wiping their bloodstained hands with the mantle of the civil rights movement led by MLK, while simultaneously subjecting black workers to the same old racist “last hired, first fired” treatment as well as by unleashing their murderous racist cops on the black population – beating, imprisoning and murdering any black worker who dares to stand up for her or his rights against the racist cops and government. In fact, in this supposedly egalitarian, democratic, anti-racist, capitalist US of A, a black worker is murdered every 28 hours by the capitalists’ racist cops, security guards or vigilantes! Who are they trying to kid?
The truth is, while they pretend today that they all loved him, in fact, while Martin Luther King was alive, the capitalists’ US Government and their police agencies did all they could to destroy Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement he led and they tried to either co-opt or assassinate its leaders. The capitalists ordered the FBI to savagely attack the civil rights movement, setting up their infamous Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) operation to “disrupt, discredit and destroy” every element of the civil rights movement. For Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta, this presented itself as a mysterious, savage campaign orchestrated by persons unknown (it turned out to be the FBI)
to destroy Martin Luther King, Jr. personally by driving him to commit suicide. The FBI sent him and his family racist cartoons, death threats and did everything they could to make their lives a living hell. The US Government’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. “lovefest” is in fact a cynical attempt to whitewash the true history of their decades-long and continuing attempts to keep the black population of the USA “in their place” as a reserve army of low-paid workers forced to live in segregated ghettoes patrolled by vicious, racist cops who think nothing of gunning down black workers of any age or sex.
Both Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King were the subject of illegal FBI wiretaps and surveillance throughout their careers as civil rights activists. Their phones were tapped in their home and offices; their friends were approached to act as FBI informants; paid informants were directed to infiltrate the King entourage and to get as close to the family as possible in order that the FBI could be kept appraised of their every move, so as to be able to disrupt the civil rights movement as completely and effectively as possible. Presidents from Democratic darling of the liberals John F. Kennedy to Republican Richard Nixon oversaw this wall-to-wall campaign of harassment and intimidation waged against the Kings before and after MLK was murdered in 1968. After the murder, the US Army’s Intelligence Unit monitored the movements of the Kings as they exercised their Constitutional rights to conduct political activities around the US.
In honor of Martin Luther King Day, we publish recently declassified FBI files which show that, in the 1960s, on at least one occasion, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informed police agencies in the Deep South in advance not only that Martin Luther King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, would be traveling by car through the jurisdictions of these notoriously racist cops but that the FBI was NOT requesting these police agencies to provide her with any protection at all.
This amounted to a clear attempt by the FBI to set up Mrs. King for arrest – or much worse – as she traveled across country on her way to participate in various Civil Rights Movement events taking place around the US. In 1966 the police agencies of Mississippi were loaded with Ku Klux Klan members – and the FBI damned well knew this. To inform these redneck cops in advance of Mrs. Kings itinerary was essentially setting her up to be murdered. Two years later, with the assassination site itself swarming with undercover cops and FBI agents, Martin Luther King was murdered in broad daylight, right in front of their eyes – and they saw nothing. It appears that as part of the FBI’s long-running attempts to destroy MLK personally, they gave the green light on at least one occasion to the Klan-ridden cops of Mississippi to “take out” his wife.
In November of 1966, Mrs. King planned to make a trip by car to Grenada, Mississippi car to to give a vocal recital at a benefit for the Grenada County Freedom Movement – and the FBI immediately knew about her trip and moved to set her up. Today, it might not be a well-remembered name from the days of the Civil Rights era, but there is no way that Hoover and the FBI in 1966 would have been unaware of the deeply racist nature of the police in that part of Mississippi that Mrs. King would pass through on her way to Grenada. Quite the contrary!
Grenada was one of the towns that had been on the route of James Meredith’s 220-mile-long “March Against Fear” from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi which took place earlier that very same year. Meredith was the man who had created a massive uproar when he, an Air Force veteran, dared to apply to attend the University of Mississippi in 1962. It took a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a threat to arrest the Governor of Mississippi, 500 U.S. marshals and a battalion from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to be deployed before the university would “allow” him to attend! To say that the FBI “knew of” James Meredith would be a massive understatement: Meredith was internationally famous.
Originally, Meredith did not want any of the national civil rights organizations to be involved in the “March Against Fear” and he asked that only black men would participate in the march. When Meredith was shotgunned 3 times by a white racist on the 2nd day of the march (- amazingly, he survived), the major civil rights organizations immediately came to his aid and took over the organization and leadership of the trek to Jackson. According to the Wikipedia article on the “March Against Fear”, “The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Human Rights Medical Committee took part, with the Deacons for Defense and Justice from Louisiana providing armed protection.” They combined the protest with voter registration drives in the towns they passed through. When they got to Grenada and started their voter registration activities, the Grenada “town fathers” pretended to cooperate, and appointed black registrars to oversee the program. However, as soon as the marchers left the town, the newly created registration rolls of the names and addresses of black voters were burned by the town’s racist leaders.
In spite of all this, when Mrs. King planned to drive to Grenada later that same year to give a vocal recital at a benefit for the Grenada County Freedom Movement, the FBI (which knew of her plans in advance thanks to the wiretaps US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had ordered to be installed on the phones of key civil rights activists – especially Stanley Levison) informed the local Grenada cops as well as the Mississippi Highway Patrol that she was on her way – and that the FBI did not expect them to provide any protection for her! The Jackson, MS office of the FBI was apparently given the green light to inform the local cops of detailed information the FBI had acquired about her planned movements, including the precise time that she was expected to be leaving the benefit!
The evidence of this plot is contained in this November 12, 1966 document from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to the FBI office in Jackson, MS. In it, Hoover advises the FBI – in Jackson, Mississippi! – to “ADVISE MISS. HIWAY PATROL AND GRANADA [MISS. – IWPCHI] POLICE OF MRS. KING’S PRESENCE IN MISS. AND TAKE NO FURTHER ACTION. THESE AGENCIES SHOULD BE ADVISED WE ARE MERELY PASSING ON THIS INFORMATION AND NOT REQUESTING PROTECTION FOR MRS. KING”. Hoover quite pointedly did not order the Jackson office to inform the local racist cops that the FBI would be providing protection either, implying – not at all subtly – that the local crazies were free to launch an attack on Mrs. King and her entourage. There really is no other way to interpret these orders from Hoover.
We have no idea if any members of the Mississippi police agencies that had been informed of Mrs. King’s travels to their state made any attempt to attack Mrs. King on or around November 13, 1966. Maybe they did and we just don’t know about it; maybe they were suspicious that they were being set up by the Feds. Maybe they just didn’t have enough advance notice of her itinerary to launch an attack. But whatever the reason, it was not because the FBI was going out of its way to protect Mrs. King.
Capitalism uses racism to divide and conquer the working class, making it harder for workers to organize across racial lines in order to fight the capitalists endless attempts to smash unions, disrupt anti-racist and socialist workers parties and squeeze more profits out of us thereby. The pro-capitalist political parties of the capitalist class – the Republicans and the Democrats, as well as the Green Parties and other reformist parties – all defend the capitalist system, which means that they can not be transformed into effective weapons in the workers struggle to smash racism. We need to build an integrated revolutionary socialist workers party that understands that racism can’t be done away with under the capitalist system. Capitalism needs racism in order to survive; it will take a workers socialist revolution to overthrow the capitalist system before we can even begin to wipe out racism here in the USA and around the world. Join us!
Workers of the World, Unite!
Independent Workers Party of Chicago