January is about respecting and protecting the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is in this spirit that I invoke - not a dreamin’ King - but an impatient leader of the civil rights movement in 1963: “This is no time…to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” Unless one has been sleeping, this country is in the throes of an internal ideological and cultural war for domination. The oppressed are supposed to suffer silently and grin in the face of gradualism.

By the time Dr. King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech before the Washington, D.C. gathering, he had already summed up white America’s gradualism strategy towards full citizenship of African Americans. He called them out with the powerful metaphor of the bounced check. That sucka’ is still bouncing in 2023. Seventy years after the height of Dr. King’s non-violent movement for civil and human rights, Black folks are still fighting for those rights.

Let’s go back to a now historic January event. January 6, 2021. That’s when a sizeable swath of the white population was primed to take their country back. Their quasi-military planned to stop the peaceful transition of power. Their failed coup showed its hand, or maybe another part of the anatomy. The goal was to keep president trump in office despite his ineptness for governance and his demonstrated contempt for people of color, women, gays, immigrants, Muslims and the differently abled. He allegedly received more votes in 2020 than any sitting president - 73 million votes. We can’t ignore these compelling numbers because the folks who cast them aren’t going away. They showed up for the senatorial race in Georgia where Raphael Warnock barely held on to his seat. His opponent had as many character flaws as trump.

The visual of armed whites scaling walls, running through the halls of Congress with nooses, and smashing anything in their way should’ve been a real wake-up call for the country. It must be a gut-punch for the social justice movements. Our movements need to go cold turkey on our gradualism addiction and be prepared to take some unflinching liberatory leaps this year.

We must engage our people in mass education campaigns with strategic messaging about self-determination and solidarity. Our outreach must be creative and penetrating. Think about alternative methods of communication we’ll need when corporate thugs like Elon Musk restrict access to their tools.

We have become accustomed to mobilizations as our main barometer for progress. Getting thousands in the streets is insufficient if we can’t wrestle power from those who have the power to determine our future. We must re-define organizing so that there’s measurable impact on the quality of life of the majority of us struggling under racial capitalism. This means having a political analysis rooted in the material conditions in this country and a realistic assessment of the progressive forces who are committed to fighting for the democracy Dr. King died fighting for.

The political differences between organizations or across sectors are real but they are not insurmountable. They pale in comparison to the fascist repression waiting for us on the horizon if we fail to get it together. We must get to a higher unity through principled struggle.

The battle looming ahead is the preservation of the democracy and whose hands it will be in. The vision that Dr. King articulated for this country is not just one of hope but for the political, economic and social transformation that will create a new reality.

Dr. Martin Luther King would tell us today what he told us sixty years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial: “We…remind America of the fierce urgency of now. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.” Let’s intensify our organizing in 2023!

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, founder and Chair Emeritus of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and speaker. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle. Other writings by Ms. Rogers can be found on her blog jamalarogers.com. Contact Ms. Rogers and BC.

  Bookmark and Share

Bookmark and Share