You know who wanted you to stop buying Coca-Cola products as a means to protest systemic racism in America? The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. On April 3, 1968, in a speech in Memphis, King said Black marchers seeking civil rights didn’t need to throw Molotov cocktails when they could achieve their goals by pressuring large corporations.
King told his audience inside the Mason Temple to demand fair and equal treatment and to say: “‘Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.’ And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis.”
These were among the last few words that the great civil rights leader uttered on this earth. The following night, King — whose criticisms of American capitalism had grown more radical — was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. As the 53rd anniversary of those events draws near, citizens in King’s home state of Georgia are again pleading for civil rights, in the face of a new voter suppression law. And activists are once again weighing a boycott of Coca-Cola, the multi-national soft-drink giant headquartered in Atlanta.