The Rev. Bernard LaFayette Jr. was resting at his Chicago, Illinois, home one autumn weekend in 1967 when the phone rang. The caller didn't identify himself, but LaFayette immediately recognized the baritone voice.
"Bernard, I need you," the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said. "This may be my last campaign. We're going for broke."
Most Americans think of King as the "I Have a Dream" preacher at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. But the man who made his final trip to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968 had become radical, scholars and activists say. King was gambling his legacy on a final crusade that was so revolutionary, it alarmed many of his closest advisers. Some became concerned about his emotional stability.
King called his crusade the Poor People's Campaign. He planned to march on Washington with a multiracial army of poor people who would build shantytowns at the Lincoln Memorial -- and paralyze the nation's capital if they had to.
The campaign's goal: force the federal government to withdraw funding for the Vietnam War and commit instead to abolishing poverty. Read full article »