Today is the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. Contrary to the sanitized saccharine version of Martin Luther King most school children are force fed stands the real man. A radical. A democratic socialist. A man truly despised in the circles of power. Who, in the last campaign before he was struck down, expanded the search for justice beyond nondiscrimination into the realm of true empowerment.

Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis working for the Poor People’s Campaign. He was told by numerous friends and colleagues not to go to Memphis and after a historic speech against the Vietnam War President Lyndon Johnson disinvited King to to the White House and pulled his support. King and the Poor People’s Campaign were already being subjected to a covert disruption campaign by the FBI apparently based on the threat of “black militancy.”

The Poor People’s Campaign would eventually yield a committee that demanded an Economic Bill of Rights with five planks:

  1. “A meaningful job at a living wage”
  2. “A secure and adequate income” for all those unable to find or do a job
  3. “Access to land” for economic uses
  4. “Access to capital” for poor people and minorities to promote their own businesses
  5. Ability for ordinary people to “play a truly significant role” in the government

The “secure and adequate income” or a guaranteed annual income was wholeheartedly endorsed by King who thought it was the surest way to end poverty. Which, from a technical standpoint, it is.

I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.

Redistributing income from the rich to the poor would, in essence, remove poverty. It is also, without a doubt, socialism. It seems past time for the real Martin Luther King to be celebrated. To remember what he died for.