Our country has changed a lot in the last half-century since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. — but not in every way.

As our contributors note this week, there’s plenty the late civil rights giant would recognize about our country in 2022 — from poverty and inequality to a sustained assault on voting rights and a federal government that still puts militarism before human needs. And there are newer, potentially more serious challenges as well, from climate change to the pandemic.

It’s a lot to live with, more still to overcome. But as Dedrick Asante-Muhammad writes this week, that never deterred King — and it shouldn’t deter us. Drawing on King’s “Testament of Hope,” Dedrick explains how the late leader found hope in a vision for change that was as realistic as it was radical.

Other contributors elaborate on what makes King’s optimism so relevant today.

Ben Jealous draws a strong parallel between the 1960s civil rights movement’s pressure on Lyndon Johnson to the pressure on President Biden over voting rights today. Khury Petersen-Smith lays out King’s strong internationalism as a model for solving problems at home and abroad today. And Colleen Wessel-McCoy reflects on the remarkable revitalization of King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign in the modern movement of the same name, which is furiously organizing in 40 states.

Finally, Paul Armentano lays out some simple steps President Biden could take to roll back the federal cannabis prohibition, which has been as stark a racial injustice as any other policy of the last 50 years.

I found all these pieces uplifting. Hope you do, too!

New This Week…

Dr. King Remained Hopeful. So Can We. | Dedrick Asante-Muhammad
King’s “Testament of Hope” sounds as relevant today as the day it was published.

Biden Is Rising to the Moment on Voting Rights. Can Congress? | Ben Jealous
With the legacy of the civil rights movement under threat, senators must reject the use of the filibuster to block voting rights protections.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Internationalist | Khury Petersen-Smith
King looked beyond our borders — not only at injustice, but how people worked together to end it. It’s an example we need today.

Continuing King’s ‘Revolution of Values’ | Colleen Wessel-McCoy
King spent his last birthday organizing poor people of all races against immoral spending priorities. We need that revolution today.

It’s Time for Biden to Keep His Promises on Marijuana | Paul Armentano
Even without Congress, the president could take important steps to ease federal cannabis prohibition. What’s he waiting for?

Vaccination? Over My Dead Body | Khalil Bendib
The price of “freedom.”

In Case You Missed It…

The Party of January 6 | John Feffer
The coup attempt turned into a road map for the national GOP. Whether democracy survives is up to us.

Selling Out Democracy for Political Influence | Kyle Herrig
One year after January 6, corporations are once again filling the campaign coffers of politicians who tried to overthrow the last election.

January 6 Showed Why D.C. Deserves Statehood | Robin Savannah Carver
When I think of January 6, I remember the overwhelming helplessness — a familiar feeling to residents of the capital.

Affordable Child Care is the Boost Our Economy Needs | Mary C. King
High quality child care helps parents earn more now, kids earn more later, and keeps entire communities afloat.


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Peter Certo

Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of OtherWords.org.

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