Detroiters honor MLK’s radical legacy

BY: Drew Bradley| January 25, 2023
Detroiters honor MLK’s radical legacy


Hundreds of Detroiters gathered on January 16 to honor the radical legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The rally, held at St. Matthew’s & St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, included speeches from community activists as well as musical performances, dance, and poetry by local artists. Speakers repeatedly emphasized Dr. King’s commitment to the struggle for peace, civil rights, and workers’ rights while connecting his legacy to the problems facing Detroiters today.

Speakers addressed urgent issues: the housing crisis, water shutoffs, poor wages and working conditions faced by Detroit workers, reproductive rights, political prisoners, racism, and imperialism. After the rally, attendees marched to the Detroit People’s Food Co-op, a cooperatively owned grocery store under construction in the North End neighborhood.

Among the speakers was Detroit CPUSA member Sammie Lewis. Lewis spoke on U.S. imperialism and the connection between local struggles over housing, as well as racist policing, and U.S. military intervention abroad. They explained that U.S. imperialists “oppress not only the working class and marginalized people in our very own country, but . . . all the other countries in efforts to build more profit and control.” Lewis also described the U.S. as a “war machine” neglecting the needs of its citizens in order to allocate more and more money to fund conflicts in Yemen, Palestine, Ukraine, and Cuba, and at home in the form of overpolicing. Lewis concluded with a quote from MLK himself:

It is not enough to say “We must not wage war.” It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but the positive affirmation of peace.

Images:  March to the Detroit People’s Food Co-op, Sammie Lewis, Banner; photos courtesy Detroit Club, CPUSA.


    Drew Bradley is an activist with the Detroit Club, CPUSA.

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