MLK Day, interesting letter from MLK III to John Edwards, and my take on tonight’s debate.

January 21st, 2008 · 5 Comments

Today when we honor Dr. King’s legacy with parades, memorials, and other tributes, I found this letter from his son to presidential candidate John Edwards:
January 20, 2008

The Honorable John E. Edwards

410 Market Street

Suite 400

Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Dear Senator Edwards:

It was good meeting with you yesterday and discussing my father’s legacy. On the day when the nation will honor my father, I wanted to follow up with a personal note.

There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of back and forth in the political arena over my father’s legacy. It is a commentary on the breadth and depth of his impact that so many people want to claim his legacy. I am concerned that we do not blur the lines and obscure the truth about what he stood for: speaking up for justice for those who have no voice.

I appreciate that on the major issues of health care, the environment, and the economy, you have framed the issues for what they are – a struggle for justice. And, you have almost single-handedly made poverty an issue in this election.

You know as well as anyone that the 37 million people living in poverty have no voice in our system. They don’t have lobbyists in Washington and they don’t get to go to lunch with members of Congress. Speaking up for them is not politically convenient. But, it is the right thing to do.

I am disturbed by how little attention the topic of economic justice has received during this campaign. I want to challenge all candidates to follow your lead, and speak up loudly and forcefully on the issue of economic justice in America.

From our conversation yesterday, I know this is personal for you. I know you know what it means to come from nothing. I know you know what it means to get the opportunities you need to build a better life. And, I know you know that injustice is alive and well in America, because millions of people will never get the same opportunities you had.

I believe that now, more than ever, we need a leader who wakes up every morning with the knowledge of that injustice in the forefront of their minds, and who knows that when we commit ourselves to a cause as a nation, we can make major strides in our own lifetimes. My father was not driven by an illusory vision of a perfect society. He was driven by the certain knowledge that when people of good faith and strong principles commit to making things better, we can change hearts, we can change minds, and we can change lives.

So, I urge you: keep going. Ignore the pundits, who think this is a horserace, not a fight for justice. My dad was a fighter. As a friend and a believer in my father’s words that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I say to you: keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud.


Martin L. King, III

John Edwards has been the most vocal in terms of speaking out on issues of economic justice, an issue that touches Americans of all ethnic backgrounds. I wish that I could say the same for Hillary Clinton, but I do think that Barack Obama has made a good case for the impoverished and downtrodden and has more recent experience working directly with the disenfranchised.

As for tonight’s debate, I really think that John Edwards stood out and looked the most presidential. He didn’t need to engage in a tit-for-tat debate about his record or statements made this week. Edwards was the only candidate to mention Katrina as well… I’m kind of shocked that the other candidates didn’t bother to mention this most recent disaster that disproportionately affected poor Americans. He was passionate, persuasive, and acted with a calm demeanor.

Barack Obama performed well, but I think that debates aren’t the best medium for him to articulate his positions. I do think that as the Clinton machine continues to hammer him that he will improve. He did raise a good point in that he feels as if he is running against both Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton. While we are on this topic, I really think that team Clinton would be better served if Bill took the high road and behaved more like former President Carter instead of attacking like an angry dog. He just can’t let go and let his wife (uh, political partner) do her thing. Some of us in the more progressive wing of the Democratic party don’t like being hit over the head with his accomplishments in the 1990s.

So in my opinion, I would rank the winners of this debate as follows:

Edwards, Obama, Clinton

Tags: Barack Obama · Hillary Clinton · John Edwards · Presidential Elections

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 The Kaiser // Jan 21, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    I agree with that assessment. I especially like the comment Obama made regarding Hillary’s history as an attorney for Wal-Mart.

  • 2 Michaelr // Jan 21, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    I hope the rise of John Edwards begins here. Hillary claiming she’ll withdraw troops from Iraq within a set timetable is quite a bold thing to say on film. Her combative style didn’t work well here. And Obama arose to defend his points against her, quite elegantly. I wonder if these three people will be able to grasp how fucked up the Bush Administration will be leaving this country. There are going to need FDR type reversals of public policy to repair what’s been destroyed by Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush. If the middle class doesn’t grow in the next decade, the U.S. will no longer have the income to pay its debts, and could vacate its place as an economic power.

  • 3 Regina Rodriguez // Jan 22, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Of Obama, Edwards and Clinton, John Edwards is really the one I’d like most to see in the White House.

  • 4 Felicia // Jan 22, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Regina, I like Edwards, too. But I wonder if we like Edwards because he’s not the frontrunner. If Edwards were ahead in the polls and winning primaries/caucuses, the Clinton machine would be attacking him. Then he’d have to do the tit-for-tat with her. Basically, the Clintons are seasoned politicians, the kind I think we need less of in Washington, and they’re going to get the Democratic nomination. Notice I said the Clintons because like Obama said, sometimes it’s difficult to determine who’s running for office–Hill or Bill.

  • 5 webmaster // Jan 22, 2008 at 9:24 pm


    I like Edwards for what he says and the message that he’s promoting. I don’t necessarily feel that I’m always supporting “the underdog.”

    I hope that you are incorrect in your prediction about Team Clinton. I really think that if the Democrats nominate them, then we can almost guarantee another Republican president. I think that having another Bush presidency in close proximity to the previous one is not something that we should repeat even with the Clintons, who in comparison were more successful.

    I think that with all of the talk about term limits and getting rid of politics as usual that it would be very ironic to put Hillary Clinton in charge. Maybe this is some sort of cognitive dissonance that the electorate is having??

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