Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Explanation that Jim Crow Harmed Working Class Whites As Well As Blacks

by John Spritzler

August 29, 2019

[Also please read "Is it a 'Privilege' Not to be Discriminated Against?"]

[Also please read "Racial Discrimination Against Non-Whites is Rampant and Harms Working Class People of ALL Races"]

[Also please read "Why and How Big Money Promotes "White Privilege" Rhetoric"]


MLK, Jr. gave a speech (click here to see it in full) March 25, 1965 at Selma, Alabama, in which he carefully explained how the Southern aristocracy INVENTED racial segregation and Jim Crow for the purpose of keeping both the working class blacks AND working class whites in poverty, i.e., how Jim Crow was an attack on poor whites as well as blacks. Far too many otherwise sensible people think that Jim Crow BENEFITED the poor whites, which is totally false.

I have included the relevant excerpt from King's speech below, and you can listen to King saying these words during his speech here .

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to understand what King explains here about the real purpose and effect of Jim Crow (and, hence, racial discrimination in general.)

The ruling class does not want us to understand this. That is why the ruling class censors the fact that, among working class people, AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL. That is also why the ruling class has worked hard to replace the good phrase, "racial discrimination" (which points the accusing finger at the person or institution that is doing the discriminating) with the horrible divisive phrase "white privilege" (which points the accusing finger at working class whites with the false assertion that they benefit from [the word privilege means, by definition, a benefit] racial discrimination against non-whites), as you can read about here .

The ruling class want working class whites to believe that anti-racism is code for anti-white. The Left agrees with the ruling class on this, and not only loves the phrase "white privilege" but also thinks it is a good idea to attack working class whites just because they are white in the name of anti-racism, as you can read about here .


"Our whole campaign in Alabama has been centered around the right to vote. In focusing the attention of the nation and the world today on the flagrant denial of the right to vote, we are exposing the very origin, the root cause, of racial segregation in the Southland. Racial segregation as a way of life did not come about as a natural result of hatred between the races immediately after the Civil War. There were no laws segregating the races then. And as the noted historian, C. Vann Woodward, in his book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, clearly points out, the segregation of the races was really a political stratagem employed by the emerging Bourbon interests in the South to keep the southern masses divided and southern labor the cheapest in the land. You see, it was a simple thing to keep the poor white masses working for near-starvation wages in the years that followed the Civil War. Why, if the poor white plantation or mill worker became dissatisfied with his low wages, the plantation or mill owner would merely threaten to fire him and hire former Negro slaves and pay him even less. Thus, the southern wage level was kept almost unbearably low.

"Toward the end of the Reconstruction era, something very significant happened. That is what was known as the Populist Movement. The leaders of this movement began awakening the poor white masses and the former Negro slaves to the fact that they were being fleeced by the emerging Bourbon interests. Not only that, but they began uniting the Negro and white masses into a voting bloc that threatened to drive the Bourbon interests from the command posts of political power in the South.

"To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy began immediately to engineer this development of a segregated society. I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South of laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century."





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