Poor people, unite you – across racialization

King and the Other America. The Poor People's Campaign and the Quest for Economic Equality
ECONOMIC INequality / In an era when antiracism is being portrayed as identity politics and white poor people are being blamed for Trump, it is helpful to be reminded of Martin Luther King's attempt to bridge the fight against racism and economic inequality.


The Poor People's Campaign – it was Martin Luther King's last major project whose implementation he failed to see. When the civil rights icon was shot down in 1968, it also became an opportunity to hide his role in the fight to bridge the gap between poor blacks and poor whites in the United States. That's the main point of a new book, King and the Other America, which attempts to reignite the discussion of the link between racism and economic inequality through a fresh look at Martin Luther King's political thoughts and actions.

"The egalitarian economic demands" of the interracial Poor People's Campaign, Laurent writes, were "overshadowed by King's death" and – through a pool of interests – simultaneously bounded by history. To the extent that the campaign has gained any room at all, it has been portrayed as a project that was doomed to fail, as a kind of late and ill-considered exclamation in the work of an otherwise intangible civil rights activist.

Sylvie Laurent's book on Martin Luther King's latest major project puts the fight against racism and economic inequality in historical perspective.

Through readings of Martin Luther King's speeches, political writings, and political alliances, historian Sylvie Laurent tries, in part, to show that The Poor People's Campaign was not a deviation, but on the contrary to King's thoughts, and partly to highlight the radical and ever-present potential his last project.

Formal and real rights

The Poor People's Campaign arose out of the realization that the victories the civil rights movement had achieved during the 1950s and 1960s were not worth much without economic access to claim. . .

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