Kent State speaker: King would press 'war on poverty'

By Thomas Gallick | Staff Writer Published:

Carlos Muñoz Jr., told faculty, students and visitors at Kent State University Thursday that Martin Luther King Jr., if he were alive today, would press President Barack Obama for less action in wars abroad and more action on "the war on poverty" in the United States.

Muñoz, professor emeritus at University of California, Berekley and founding chair of the first Chicano studies department in the United States of America, was the keynote speaker KSU's 11th Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in the Kent Student Center Ballroom.

A Vietnam War veteran and social activist, Muñoz said he was disappointed Obama did not act more quickly to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We have lost enough of our young men and women of all colors in wars we had no business being involved in," he said. Muñoz said King, a practitioner of non-violent resistance, would have celebrated the election of the nation's first black president, but would have questioned many of the foreign policy actions of Obama's first term. Muñoz said King was known for "speaking truth to power."

King also protested for economic and social justice, leading Muñoz to suggest the civil rights leader would also be unhappy with some of Obama's domestic policy decisions as well.

"We must let (Obama) know ... We expect him to save the poor and working class like he saved Wall Street in his first term," Muñoz said.

He said social activists should also be pressing for amnesty for undocumented workers and the end of private, for-profit prisons. Muñoz referred to the nation's current prison system as "the new slavery" due to the outsized percentage of prison populations made up by black and latino inmates.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1126 or tgallick@recordpub.com

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