MLK III to Edwards: 'My father would be proud': The Swamp
The Swamp
Posted January 21, 2008 7:45 PM
The Swamp

by Jim Tankersley

Moments before he and rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are set to debate in South Carolina -- and at the end of a holiday that saw Democrats and Republicans pay homage to Martin Luther King Jr. -- John Edwards' campaign just released a glowing letter to the former North Carolina senator from Martin Luther King III.

Edwards met with King, the first son of the famed civil rights leader, on Saturday in Atlanta. In a follow-up letter, King lauds Edwards for his commitment to social justice and his focus on making poverty a presidential campaign issue.

Much has been made of the struggle for African-American votes - which are critical in South Carolinna - between Obama, the best-financed African American presidential candidate in history, and Clinton, whose husband cultivated deep affection from the African-American community as president. Obama and Clinton tussled in recent weeks over their respective invocations of Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy.

Edwards largely avoided that skirmish while relentlessly pushing his people-against-the powerful campaign message - a decision Martin Luther King III seems to appreciate.

"There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of back and forth in the political arena over my father’s legacy," he wrote in the letter to Edwards. "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."

In closing, he wrote: "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. "

Read on for the full letter.

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

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John Edwards gave a great, heartfelt speech.

This Democrat couldn't be prouder of our candidates.

Doug..I would like to join you on this. The right and the media can put any spin on this they wish, but I am proud that this party and these candidates are a group of caring compassionate people, who to me, genuinely feel they have the way forward instead of two steps back.

John Edwards is the best choice for Democratic voters. Democrats must nominate a candidate who will reverse the failed "trickle down" economic policies of the past quarter of a century.

John Edwards is the finest candidate we have. He's speaking up for the disenfranchised in our society, giving voice to the voiceless. He's telling the truth - our system is broken and it will take a fight to fix it.

That's why I'm proud to be on the Democratic ballot for the primary on January 12th as a candidate for delegate to the national convention for the 3rd District of Maryland, pledged to John Edwards. If you live in the 3rd district, I would appreciate your vote. (You live in the 3rd District if John Sarbanes is your Congressman.)

I sure hope South Carolina can change the course of these primaries. John Edwards is our best bet for real, constructive, tangible change in this country.

Perhaps once the interest in celebrity dies down, Americans will really start to take a closer look at the candidates and what they stand for. Edwards has all the right ideas along with specific and detailed plans to get our country on the right track. He has the integrity and backbone to truly fight for all Americans, and I can only hope that he will continue to go forward and never give up. We desperately need him in this race, and I will be voting for him.

I believe that John Edwards is the best candidate for president. The other democratic candidates have adopted his positions on a variety of issues. He is the only candidate for real change. The others are beholden to the corporations that have financed their campaigns. Edwards has refused corporate funds. I have given, and will continue to give to his campaign because he is financed only by us--the citizens--and because I believe he is our only hope out of the slippery-slide to corporate fascism that we are on. Please, if you want real change, support Edwards with your heart, your voice, and your money.

I too think that Dr. King would have been proud that Senator Edwards has driven a social justice agenda in this election and has persevered in the face of widespread derision for his refusal to bow down to the pundits calls for him to give up the fight. I echo Mr. King's advice for Edwards to fight on.

Whoops! That would be February 12th. The primary is on February 12th. I typed the wrong date in my comment above! Sorry!

John Edwards is a man to be admired in his fight for people to recognize the down trodden in this country. He is the voice of the people who cannot speak for themselves. He is the humantarian and compassinate man that will make peace with all nations in the world and people all over the world will look up to America again. Vote for John Edwards people of SC, don't sell yourselves short.

What a wonderful and inspiring letter; it made my Martin Luther King Day. I saw the debate tonight and as usual, John Edwards was amazing! It was disheartening because half of the CNN focus group thought Edwards won the debate but "were probably going to vote for Obama because they think he has a better chance of winning the nomination." People have got to start focusing on who can win in November, not who will win this "American Idol" like competition between Hillary and Obama. John Edwards wants to help the poor and middle class, which will in turn lift all of us up. God Bless John Edwards! And God Bless Martin Luther King III for writing this wonderful letter.


I have been hoping Jesse Jackson would follow his own lead and come forward in support of John Edwards since the day he wrote an editorial in the Chicago Sun Times calling Hillary and Obama to task for ignoring the issue of poverty.

Now Martin Luther King III has beaten Jesse to it.

MLK III says his father would be proud of John's campaign. He says John is carrying on his father's legacy with his commitment to social and economic justice. Can one imagine a more momentous endorsement on this, the day we honor his father, Martin Luther King Jr.?

While the press calls on John to quit, MLK III tells John to "keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud."

Will the press marginalize Martin Luther King Jr.'s son the way it has endeavored to marginalize John Edwards?

They must prove there's something behind their lofty claims of reverence for Martin Luther King Jr. by covering this widely.

Raoul O'Connell
Los Angeles

John Edwards Bio -spotlight in Newsweek moved me to tears -- because his life demonstrates to me that he has a good heart and actually cares about people...I have always wanted to emulate men like Edwards -- I hope John keeps going -- we all need people like him in this world. No-one cares for the poor --especially when they become successful financially... John's story touched me because when I was a boy growing up that's what I thought the Amercian Government was supposed to stand for...I still hope that we can achieve this country's ideals

I thought John Edwards tonight again showed as he has in the last several debates why he remains a candidate for the Democratic nomination.
And this letter from MLK III just confirms it. I wish the media would stop making this a 2-way horse race on the Democratic side, as MLK III also points out, when they can continue to focus on every random Republican with the least chance of winning the nomination.
It is time the vast majority of reporters reported on the race rather than shaping it into the narrative they would prefer it to be.

Keep fighting the good fight, John. I believe you will make a fine president, but your expressed and demonstrated ideals transcend the presidency. Regardless of politics, I hope you and others of faith will continue the timeless march for justice for all, until one day we can all truly say "free at last".

I think it's interesting that time and time again as I watch these debates Sen. Edwards seems to make the most salient and significant points speaking to the core of the party. I sit and wonder why the majority of voters doesn't see what I see. I beleive it's based on media and money as opposed to message. I am so disappointed that Americans always seem to stray from their own self interest. John Edwards is the best person for the job.

Thank you, Martin Luther King III, for being so encouraging to John Edwards to fight on. As a strong Edwards' supporter, I am convinced that he is, by far, the best candidate for President. MLK III eloquently put down in words one of the major reasons - because the very center of his campaign is based on social and economic justice for everyone. I love hearing Edwards say that his father taught him that every worker in the mill was worth every bit as much as the owner of the mill. Our country does not act on that truth. We as a society have become blinded by money, money, money, and everywhere, from police stations to schools to Washington, DC, those without means are treated as though they are throw-away people, not in any way equal to those who are well-off. John Edwards is the only candidate who keeps talking about this as though it matters to him heart-and-soul,who keeps saying that America is better than this, and who keeps trying to get the word out - through a media intent on ignoring him and his message - about specific things he would do as President to seek to provide equal opportunity to everyone. Keep on fighting, John - all the way to the White House!!! We'll be with you all the way!!

I too, enjoyed the moving letter from Martin Luther King Jr.'s son. Fight on Edwards, the fight may be long and hard; but the end is in sight--November election. A democratic ticket with Edwards and Biden would be great. I will vote republican or independent if there is Obama or Clinton anywhere on the ticket. They both are narrow sighted, lack long term goals to address the real issues, poverty, health care, education and the ever invisible middle class until tax dollars are needed and wow there's a middle class. Keep on fighting Edwards till the end on November 4, 2008. Another note if McCain is the republican candidate in November; I'll vote independent. Come on America---let's get this right. Eight plus years are enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best wishes John Edwards. Edwards for president--for many good reasons.

John Edwards is a phony. The only reason John Edwards 'stayed above the fray' if he did at all in the debate last night was because like he said about Nevada, "he got his butt kicked" in the last election and his butt has been kicked from the start of this campaign, reigning in third and distant thirds. He was down!! Edwards had no choice than to stay above the fray last night, he's in last place, trying to catch breath, trying to gain traction. He throws out this poverty stuff but what is he actually saying he's going to do about 'poverty'? What has he done? Why is he no longer in the senate, and for some time? Does he really know what 'poverty' is? Edwards said last night at the debate 'If you are black you are poor.' Well that's sure as hell not true. What an ignorant statement. He really doesn't even know black people. And, he's been running his campaign on TWO AMERICAS, not one. That is why the unions backed him because he convinced them that he is the only one who can win across the country because he is white and male, so he got all the union redneck backing. He's been running his campaign on segregation, not integration, not inclusiveness, not unity, but division. So he was given this letter because of his screams of poverty poverty poverty, that's nice, but all these years what has John Edwards really done for 'poverty'? Does he really know what 'poverty' is? Another thing: Edwards and his supporters have been screaming about they are not the 'celebrities who have over $100 million'. Well, guess what? With Obama's campaign, that so called celebrity money was raised by THE PEOPLE. By small donors like me and all the other Americans supporting Obama. He has more small donors than any of them, and more donors period. Every time I hear this from Edwards it sounds like he is just jealous that all these American people haven't given all this 'small' money to him. So he too makes false statements, sounding like Obama has raised his money just from big corporations. Obama didn't get this money from lobbyists or PACs like Edwards tries to make the people believe, like Hillary. And even she followed Obama's path later jumping on the bandwagon soliciting small donors, copying him. And now, I see that Edwards is following Obama's path with his 'Edwards store' saying that everything you buy is a contribution to the Edwards campaign. This is what Obama did from the start when none of them were doing this. So Edwards (and the Clintons) can wag the finger at Obama all they want to try and knock him down but if it wasn't for Obama neither Hillary or Edwards would have the campaigns or the campaign message they have today because they have copied Obama every step of the way. Obama, the true leader! OBAMA '08!!

It is clear, Either we elect John Edwards or we get more of the same old stuff...better than Bush but not nearly as good as Edwards. Please send the man a check (even if only $10 or $20) and let his campaign know we are still behind him.

RuthieM... It's too bad that you have fallen for the Republican talking point on Edwards, that he's a "phony." Watch the man speak, listen to him in the debates, listen to him in interviews. There is nothing phony there. He means what he says, and he's stating what he believes. Of course, there's no way he can know "black" poverty personally because he isn't black. But are you really that unaware of his background? There's no way you can slam him on that... There are presidents who have come from privilege who stood up for the common man, most notably Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt. Edwards is in that mold.

I am not yet convinced that Obama has the "cojones" to really stand up to the corporate right. I have no doubt at all that Edwards does. This was one successful trial lawyer, with a lot of cases won for little guys against big guys. This is a man who doesn't parse and calculate to see what will "play," this is someone who consistently says what he will do and why.

And this is the man we need, more than most people realize, to become president at this perilous time in our history. The future of our country, of our democracy, is truly at stake. We need both a fighter and a visionary right now. I don't see both qualities in the other candidates, but I can see that Edwards is that man.

It is obvious John Edwards has already won whether he gets to the White House or not. John's issues are driving the Democratic debate. It's apparent that both Obama and Hillary have co-opted many of Edwards positions.

Edwards 08

At long last we have a chance to vote for a man of real compassion. Why is the press marginalizing this man?(Edwards) Isn't he glamorous enough? Are the corporate donors sticking their big money too far into this campaign already? It must be so. If Edwards gets in they will be out and they can't have that. Wouldn't it be loverly!!

I am an African-American woman who has supported John Edwards from the start of this year's presidential race. I was impressed back then by his insistence that this country address issues of poverty. I kept thinking that along the way, Barack Obama might convince me to switch my allegiance, but that has simply not occurred. I even thought that the possibility to finally elect a woman as President would bring me over to Hillary Clinton's camp, but that hasn't happened either.

When I heard the MLK III letter read on the radio this morning, I was moved to tears and even more convinced that I was right to stay solidly in support of Edwards. Only John Edwards appears to have the right combination of commitment and courage to fight for real change for ALL of our citizens. Only Edwards' message and platform have inspired me and motivated me.

There are many people out there like RuthieM who have the mistaken belief that Edwards has no personal knowledge of poverty, who don't know that he comes from a family of struggling millworkers and that he was the first in his family to be able to attend college. But it really doesn't matter if you come from poverty, it matters if you're truly willing to fight to end poverty. Robert F. Kennedy came from a privileged background but that didn't prevent him from supporting farmworkers and other poor people in their struggles and becoming, in the end, one of our country's most eloquent and influential leaders in the war on poverty. FDR is another great example of someone whose family assets didn't prevent him from working for a better life for poor and working people.

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."

In 2008, John Edwards is the only one of the presidential candidates who carries on this fight to abolish poverty. John Edwards can win, John Edwards should win, and I just hope it's not too late for the voters of South Carolina to understand that and do the right thing.

MLK III is right.

I'll be voting for Edwards.

progressivedem...thank you!

i would love to ask you if south carplina is getting word of this letter?

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