When Dodge aired its now-controversial “Built to Serve” commercial during Super Bowl LI, some viewers took offense to Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.’s unmistakable voice speaking over images of people helping one another across the barriers of race, gender, and age. Like the other multi-million dollar ads of the evening, the experience was cinematic, only this one interspersed King’s sermon with scenes of a Dodge Ram splashing through rivers, implying some kind of connection between service and buying a pick-up truck.
Though the notoriously protective MLK estate did, in fact, approve the ad, many, many people on the internet seemed to find using King’s inspiring words to sell trucks a bit tasteless. What's worse is that King actually spoke out against car advertisers in the same exact speech used in the commercial.
But to overcome the internet outrage cycle, it might be worth taking that anger and turning it into something positive, especially towards the organizations that tirelessly carry out the work and honor the words of Dr. King everyday.
A renewed version of Dr. King’s own Poor People’s Campaign, which attempts to lift up and deepen “the leadership of those most affected by systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation and to building unity across lines of division” is set to hold its first national mobilization on Monday, February 5. Events take place across in 32 states and in Washington D.C., with participants planning to flood state Capitol buildings to confront leaders and demand action on what they see as reenergized systemic racism affecting the nation.