The passing of the Baby Boom has begun. From youngsters like the storytelling and technological geniuses Dwayne McDuffie and Steve Jobs to the elder celebrities like Al Davis and Sylvia Robinson, the children of America’s “Greatest Generation” now face life’s greatest mystery in increasing numbers. The next twenty years will fill with internet and cable television retrospectives on how different the country was when the boom began in 1941. By the time this process concludes, the youngest boomers will be over 70 years old. It is the generation that experienced the end of de jure segregation in the context of fighting Communism around the world. It is the generation that created the global service economy and left the challenge of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream unfulfilled.
“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profits and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” Dr. King spoke these words in April 1967 in his speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” They are perhaps his most timeless contribution to American oratory. His dream was the conquest of racism, materialism, and militarism. Yet all three grew stronger in the four and a half decades since he delivered these words. After a weekend where we celebrated the dedication of Dr. King’s monument, the nation must come to grips with the crisis of the current moment – the forgotten opportunity of 1967 – in ways never before conceived.
Occupy Wall Street is now a global movement, poised to meet Dr. King’s challenge. Everywhere around the world, citizens have taken to the street to reject militarism, materialism, and racism. Only the corporations and the voices of their mass media outlets cannot understand the message these brave human beings communicate. Still, the Occupy movement has not realized how to make itself heard most effectively. The mobilizations in urban centers miss the center of political and economic gravity in the world – these voices must be heard in the suburbs. The thought of assembling in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, raised eyebrows, but it would just be a ripple. The Occupy Movement must meet the middle class where it resides – in Plymouth Meeting and King of Prussia; in Arlington, Texas; and in Anaheim and San Jose, California. Occupy Neshaminy, occupy Cherry Hill, and occupy Coventry. Occupy the World Series, the National Football League, and the Olympic Games. More importantly, bring materials to educate these mass audiences about King’s dream and how to shop at small and locally owned businesses to voice their own protests. November 25 – Black Friday – would be the perfect day to show the world how a new generation of democracy works.