Recently it was announced that the U.S. Department of Treasury will be producing different five, ten, and twenty dollar bills. Soon, the five dollar bill will be changed to have Martin Luther King Jr. on the front of it.
However, Martin Luther King Jr. being placed on the five dollar bill is symbolic of America’s love for their twisted ideal of MLK and what he stood for, while simultaneously disregarding their instrumental role in his death.
In 1999 the United States government was found guilty of conspiring to kill Martin Luther King Jr. after four weeks of testimony and over 70 witnesses in a civil trial. Regardless of how long it’s been since his assassination, the US government using his image on its bills is amoral, and wrong.
Not only was the US government found guilty in the circumstances surrounding Dr. King’s death, Dr. King was decidedly anti-capitalist. In a letter to Coretta Scott, Dr. King explained that he is, “much more socialistic in [his] economic theory than capitalistic” and that, “[Capitalism] started out with a noble and high motive… but like most human systems it fell victim to the very thing it was revolting against.” The dollar is arguably the largest symbol of capitalism in the United States. To place Dr. King on it knowing how anti-capitalist he was would be disrespectful.
Martin Luther King’s presence on the five dollar bill is symbolic for the wrong reasons. The same government found guilty of conspiring to murder him should not be using his symbol. Dr. King was a man against capitalism, so therefore should not be found in any part of it.