On Monday, Hillary Clinton said:
"[#BlackLivesMatters] is fueled in large measure by young people and it is a particular development in the civil rights movement that deserves our support," Clinton said. "By that I mean, there are some who say, 'Well racism is a result of economic inequality.' I don't believe that."
Hmmm. Who are these "some" that say this?
It can't be Bernie Sanders. Sanders did say this:
As we celebrate King's great achievement and sacrifice, it is wrong to round off the sharp edges of his legacy. He saw inequality as a fundamental and tragic flaw in this society, and he made clear in the weeks leading up to his assassination that economic issues were becoming the central focus of his advocacy.
Nearly five decades later, King's words on the subject still ring true. On March 10, 1968, just weeks before his death, he spoke to a union group in New York about what he called "the other America." He was preparing to launch a Poor People's Campaign whose premise was that issues of jobs and issues of justice were inextricably intertwined.
"One America is flowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of equality," King said. "That America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, freedom and human dignity for their spirits. . . . But as we assemble here tonight, I'm sure that each of us is painfully aware of the fact that there is another America, and that other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair."
Those who lived in the other America, King said, were plagued by "inadequate, substandard and often dilapidated housing conditions," by "substandard, inferior, quality-less schools," by having to choose between unemployment and low-wage jobs that didn't even pay enough to put food on the table.
The problem was structural, King said: "This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor."
Eight days later, speaking in Memphis, King continued the theme. "Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working every day?" he asked striking sanitation workers. "And they are making wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen, and it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income."
King explained the shift in his focus: "Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know that it isn't enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn't earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?"
But what King saw in 1968 -- and what we all should recognize today -- is that it is useless to try to address race without also taking on the larger issue of inequality. He was planning a poor people's march on Washington that would include not only African-Americans but also Latinos, Native Americans and poor Appalachian whites. He envisioned a rainbow of the dispossessed, assembled to demand not just an end to discrimination but a change in the way the economy doles out its spoils."
And that is the theme that I wish to pursue this evening. The need to simultaneously address the structural and institutional racism which exists in this country, while at the same time we vigorously attack the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality which is making the very rich much richer while everyone else - especially the African-American community and working-class whites - are becoming poorer.
But that's definitely not the same thing that Hillary Clinton was accusing someone of saying, so who is she talking about?