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Reclaim MLK 2016


In 2015 - in the legacy of the black radical tradition - activists, organizers, clergy, and community members organized protests, direct actions, marches, shut downs, and teach-ins to reclaim the legacy of both Martin Luther King Jr. and the movement that raised him.

After more than a year of sustained resistance, we continue this tradition of resistance in 2016 with a renewed commitment to push for the kind of change that can transform our communities for the better.

We have used our voices, bodies, and hearts to shut down institutions that harm us and affirm what heals us. Our movement demands lasting justice and true power over the destinies of our communities--- and the King legacy demands nothing less.

In an election year that is sure to be full of capitulation and disappointment, we must #ReclaimMLK and what it means to honor that legacy. Let’s continue what we began in 2015--- ensuring that MLK weekend is forever known as a time of national, visible resistance to injustice.

The MLK Legacy

Dr. King was one part of a larger movement of many branches that shaped our collective imagination for what change looks like in this country.From trans women of color at Stonewall who resisted police violence to sanitation workers in Memphis demanding basic dignity, our movement has always been a big tent: queer and straight, young and old, poor folks at the margins, students in the streets and more. This movement was built on a bold vision that was radical, principled, and uncompromising. And MLK’s vision was one of a movement made of many parts that could be more aligned, more radical and more visionary.

Unfortunately, Dr. King’s legacy has been clouded by efforts to soften, sanitize, and commercialize it. Impulses to remove Dr. King from the complex and radical movement that elevated him must end. We resist efforts to reduce a long history marred with the blood of countless people into iconic images of men in suits behind pulpits.



Throughout MLK Weekend, actions will take place all over the county.  

Divest Saturday

We will draw attention to those institutions and systems that have failed and continue to hurt black people.   

Invest Monday 

We will shine a light on the resilient and strategic ways we can build our community, protect one another, and inspire our people.  



Over the past year and a half, people from across the country have risen up and are calling for a transformation of our country. Following the Movement for Black Lives Convening in Cleveland last year with nearly 2000 freedom fighters some consistent themes emerged about what our movement stands for. Across all of the demands and work coming from different parts of the movement, we seek at least three basic things:

Divest from racist systems & invest in Black communities

Simply put, we want the things that have been proven to hurt our families and our communities to lose support, resources, and money. At the same time, we want to see a serious investment in, solutions that actually help our communities thrive and flourish.  Simply put: let’s end the cash cow for jails that cage us, police that kill us, and the weapons that empower them, and more resources for our  education, health, and strong communities.

Community control

But it’s not enough to just throw money at a problem and wrap a blue ribbon commission around it. Our communities need real control over the systems and institutions that affect and shape our lives. We want the radical radical democracy that MLK, Ella Baker and others fought for, where communities most impacted are at the center of decision making. We demand the ability to decide how our schools run or the way our cities spend money. As we see schools closing in Black communities across the country, while they push us out to make room for wealthy, white resident, our voices matter in these important decisions.

Alternative institutions

Real power and self-determination also means our communities will no longer have to ask or wait for permission to see the changes we want - overwhelmingly our folks have said “we want to do it for ourselves.” Our creativity, imagination, and genius can create new solutions to our problems, and these new solutions can reflect the values of the world we want to live in. We demand the resources and  the freedom to create these new solutions. The Black Panther Party created the free breakfast program to address hunger. What solutions will our movement create to address our communities’ current needs?

A collective of dozens of organizations and individuals have responded by using these themes as a foundation as they work towards developing a national movement platform. Click here to learn more about what we're building.


Please find one here.  If you're inspired to take your own action, don't wait for permission, organize one.

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