America’s celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. typically focus on his civil rights activism: the nonviolent actions that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The last few years of King’s life, by contrast, are generally overlooked. When he was assassinated in 1968, King was in the midst of waging a radical campaign against economic inequality and poverty, while protesting vigorously against the Vietnam War.
With the Poor People’s Campaign, launched in 1968, King escalated this campaign, aimed at providing good jobs, housing, and a decent standard of living to all Americans. Decades before American protesters took to the streets of New York City and other locales to “occupy” space to protest inequality, King proposed a massive tent encampment in Washington, D.C., to demand action on poverty. Here’s an Associated Press article about the campaign:
Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations Overlook His Critiques of Capitalism and Militarism