Local scholar to speak about MLK's radicalism

Julia Scheib

When we think of Martin Luther King Jr., we might be seeing a faded, blurry picture that doesn't reflect the civil rights leader's work and true vision, according to Peter Levy, a York College professor of history.


"His activism has been watered down," Levy said.

We might think strictly of King's efforts at desegregating America, his vision of a "color-blind society," Levy said. In fact, "he had a much broader vision."

At Crispus Attucks' MLK Day of Service and Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 18, Levy will speak about how King embraced his radical label and, though he was committed to nonviolence, had in mind far more far-reaching changes to society than many understand.

"What we've done to King is representative of what we do to a lot of our political figures," Levy said. "I'm building on recent scholarship on King that tries to point out that he was more radical than we often think."

The professor said that during King's rise to prominence in the 1950s he was labeled a communist — a common way for black activists to be attacked.

Instead of letting the label limit his activism and whom he associated with, King, who was not a communist, stayed strong in his fight for racial and economic justice and was not afraid to take risks.

Nowadays, we might think that everyone was against the Vietnam War, but King was actually taking a big risk in opposing it, Levy said, because he was going against Lyndon Johnson, who supported the civil rights movement.

Levy also pointed out that King was assassinated while staying in Memphis, TN to participate in a strike by black sanitation workers, part of "what he called the 'poor people's movement,'" which moved beyond desegregation to fight for economic justice.

The event: The MLK Day of Service and Breakfast will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18. People of all ages are invited, according to a press release from the organization.

A breakfast will accompany Levy's talk at the Crispus Attucks Gymnasium, 605 S. Duke St., and participants can take part in various volunteer projects in the surrounding neighborhoods. Participants can choose to participate in street cleaning, packing lunches for the needy, cleaning at Bell Socialization and helping with a community art installation.

No registration is required to attend the free breakfast and lecture. To sign up to participate in one of the projects, go to

Other MLK Day events

MLK America's Sunday Supper: Lincoln Charter School, 559 W King St, York, will host this year's MLK America's Sunday Supper on Sunday, Jan. 17.

The event, organized by Lincoln Charter, Mayor Kim Bracey and the group Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness, will focus on the issue of homeless unaccompanied youth in the community.

A viewing of the documentary "Inocente" will be followed by discussion and a meal.

Doors will open at 3:30 p.m.

Members of the community are encouraged to bring donations for homeless unaccompanied youth in York. Toiletries, socks, large backpacks, hats and gloves are needed. Those unable to attend the event, but interested in providing donations can bring them to City Hall, 101 S. George St.

United Way: On Monday, Jan. 18, about 20 volunteers will go to York County Food Bank to help with the organization's "senior box program," packing food items into boxes so they can be distributed to seniors throughout the county, said United Way Volunteer Center Coordinator Zachary Reynolds.

United Way has enough volunteers for this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event, but, Reynolds said, the organization is always looking for new volunteers and new events to help supply with volunteers.

To create an event or find opportunities to volunteer, go to or call Reynolds at  (717) 771-3812.

— Reach Julia Scheib at