MLK Day 2022 :: “King Day: To Forget Is to Forfeit

1-15-22 King Day


Saturday, January 15, 2022 ::: 10 pm ET

“King Day: To Forget Is to Forfeit”

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The establishment of a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., marked the culmination of a long campaign that began soon after King’s assassination on April 1968 and ended on 2 November 1983, with the signing of legislation by President Ronald Reagan. Public Law 98–144 designated the third Monday in January as an annual federal holiday in King’s honor, and the first official celebration took place on 20 January 1986.

15 years later. The campaign to mark the holiday over those 15 years is strewn with vicious, racist pushback in and out of government. Over those years, there were many opportunities to question just what had really been achieved/transformed in America during the civil rights movement.

Since 1983, communities and organizations have celebrated King Day through various, creative and serious celebrations and forums. A national monument in Washington has been erected in Dr. King’s honor. However, there seems to be a diffusion in what we teach, remember and understand about Dr. King’s contribution to this country. The holiday seems to have become somewhat less deliberative in our celebrations. Taking for granted our responsibilities to keep his guidance and ideologies alive. We mention it, we attend the various luncheons, dinners. Yet, we now have generations of Black children, a new scholarship that tends to marginalize the power of his transformative power in our own communities. We read and quote his words outside the context and the import of the history he ignited.

Parades, luncheons, dinners alone cannot sustain the movement’s progress. We must organize, teach, educate, and practice the philosophy of King each and every day.

Can we keep KING ALIVE ? 

  • We should all ask yourselves: How many times this year, did I activate the liberation philosophies of Dr. King?
  • Other than social latitudes, how did you practice/use-share the language of King’s movement?
  • Just how did I “King” in the past year?
  • How did I lift ‘democracy’?

“King Day: To Forget Is to Forfeit”

Santa Clausifying Martin Luther King, Jr. l David Sirota

Santa Clausifying Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Feb 1, 2013

King statue
Kelly Branan

By David Sirota

Every year, right around the time between Martin Luther King Day and the beginning of Black History Month, the effort to distort Dr. King’s life and legacy seems to intensify. Some years, we see conservatives preposterously assert that if Dr. King were alive today, he would join today’s neo-confederate Republican Party. Other years, it is deception via omission—we see replays of Dr. King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, but do not see any of his speeches about war and poverty.

Princeton professor Cornel West accurately labels all this the “Santa Clausification” of Dr. King, and if you have ever heard or read a snippet of King’s 1967 Riverside Church speech, you will understand how apt the label is. You will also understand why this year’s most grotesque attempt to Santa Clausify Dr. King’s life is at once abhorrent and yet somewhat encouraging.

As The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald first reported, the United States Air Force’s Global Strike Command last week posted an online essay saying that Dr. King would cheer on soldiers “ensuring the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal remain the credible bedrock of our national defense.” Further, claimed the Air Force, “maintaining our commitment to our Global Strike team … is a fitting tribute to Dr. King.”

At the same time, the U.S. Marines commemorated Martin Luther King Day by tweeting out a famous King line—“a man who won’t die for something is not fit to live”—in a not-so-subtle attempt to depict him as a war supporter. That was a follow-up to a 2011 article posted on the Defense Department’s website with the headline: “King Might Understand Today’s Wars, Pentagon Lawyer Says.”

That gets us to the special relevance of the Riverside Church speech—the one that the Santa Clausifying Pentagon so obviously wants suppressed.

In that oratory, America’s most famous preacher of nonviolence deplored “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” He argued that militarism is not the way to protect America and decried “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—my own government.” And he insisted that “there is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.”

Comparing the Pentagon’s historical revisionism with King’s words, Greenwald says: “The U.S. military is actually publicly claiming that the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner and steadfast critic of U.S. imperialism would be an admirer of its massive stockpile of nuclear weapons, its global assassination programs and its covert use of violence in multiple countries around the world, including where no wars are declared. Merely to describe this agitprop is to illustrate its repulsiveness.”

He’s absolutely right, but in that repulsiveness there is a promising revelation from a political system in which lies signal desperation.

In this particular case, the Pentagon’s willingness to so boldly lie about Dr. King betrays its desperation to reverse accelerating public opinion trends. Specifically, Pentagon spinmeisters seem to realize that, according to polls, more Americans are raising King-like questions about our government’s profligate defense spending and its attempts to preference militarism over other priorities.

This suggests that for all the propaganda attempting to Santa Clausify Dr. King and make us forget what he was all about, we may, in fact, be starting to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

That’s no excuse for the propaganda, of course—but it is a promising sign that we may actually be closer than ever to realizing Dr. King’s dream.

David Sirota is the best-selling author of the books “Hostile Takeover,” “The Uprising” and “Back to Our Future.” Email him at, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at