Source: United States Marine Corps

Mr. Sanders Goes to Morehouse — a reflection on the Kingian origins of the “Sanders Revolution”

Revolution?! What is that guy talking about?!

Today Bernie Sanders is speaking at Morehouse College. Morehouse is the alma mater of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For Bernie, the trip is a pilgrimage of sorts. The Senator describes himself today the same way he did when he was in college: as a student of Dr. King.

When you look at his campaign, it is clear that Dr. King’s values — many of them shaped at Morehouse –- run all through it.

He has looked upon the unpunished crimes of Wall Street and the unfair sentences meted out to black Americans in the spirit of Dr. King, who said: “An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.”

He understands the sudden violence of shooting deaths, and the slow deaths brought on by structural violence.

He knows that, in the words of Dr. King, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

He knows that, in the words of Dr. King, “We must develop a federal program of public works, retraining, and jobs for all — so that none, white or black, will have cause to feel threatened. He understands that, in the words of Dr. King, “There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum and livable income for every American family.”

His jobs agenda heeds the words of Dr. King, who said “we must develop a federal program of public works, retraining, and jobs for all — so that none, white or black, will have cause to feel threatened.” Dr. King also said “there is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum and livable income for every American family.”

Dr. King said that “a true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.” Bernie Sanders understands that and has dedicated his life to that revolution.

Bernie Sanders heard and understood when Dr. King said these words:

“The unemployed, poverty-stricken white man must be made to realize that he is in the very same boat with the Negro. Together, they could exert massive pressure on the government to get jobs for all. Together they could form a grand alliance. Together, they could merge all people for the good of all.”

Last but not least, Bernie Sanders has heeded the advice Dr. King gave on leadership:

“Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

He does not get along to go along. As he has moved steadily up from 3 percent in the polls to being the Democrat who polls best against every possible Republican nominee, Bernie Sanders has worked to remold our national consensus along lines of justice, righteousness, and equality.

Bernie Sanders understands the spiritual call for justice. He says “I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings. He said, “my spirituality is that we are all in this together and that when children go hungry, when veterans sleep out on the street, it impacts me.”

The other candidate will tell you that Bernie offers you fairy tales, lacks foreign policy experience, and won’t be ready for the job on Day One. Consider those words — and then remember she made the exact same claims about then-Senator Obama eight years ago.

She will tell you that we most take an incremental approach to achieving the relief our families need. Consider those words, then consider these words of Dr. King’s:

“Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard?”

The spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. has motivated Bernie Sanders from the early 1960s to today. It echoes in his speeches. It shines in his vision. And it resounds in his courage to step out on faith and build a strong national consensus that together we can create a stronger, more just America for all our families — not tomorrow, but today.

That is what happens when a young civil rights organizer stays steadfast to his beliefs as he rises in American politics.

When someone asks you, “What kind of revolution is Bernie talking about?” Tell them, “The same kind Dr. King wanted.”

President, People For the American Way. Visiting Scholar, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. Former National President, NAACP.

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