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Photo of Matthew Cooke courtesy of fusionmovies.to

By Joe Thorpe

In order to effect great change, we need great leaders. What world would we be living in, what deprivation of freedoms would we suffer, what oppressive bootheel would be on our necks without the voices of movements, the spearheads of generations and the masters of eloquent truths like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy and Cesar Chavez to guide us in rebellion by moral principle and speak truth to power?

The year is 2019 and again America is embroiled in a new civil rights movement—battling bigotry, institutional racism and violence at the hands of white supremacists. Women’s rights to their own bodies are again facing legal challenges. There is a regime controlling both the Senate and the highest office in the land, whose economic policies are dispossessing the working classes while submitting America’s wealth to an ever-shrinking fraction of a percentage of people and corporations.

The world is in an environmental crisis of climate change that is eradicating species and ecosystems while entire island nations are being nearly wiped off the surface of the planet by extreme weather conditions at unprecedented, catastrophic. Where are our voices, our chief magistrates of decency, logic, reason and humanity? Where are those with the fortitude to rise-up, just as King, Kennedy, and Chavez did? Where are our leaders of today?

This is the first installment of ‘Activists You Should Follow’, a series to shed light on activists that can become the leaders that we so desperately need right now.

Documentarian and Washington D.C. native Matthew Cooke has developed a loyal following over the last several years and has recently made a breakthrough into the mainstream media world, guest-hosting Larry King’s political talk show ‘PoliticKING’ on Hulu since May 2019.

Cooke first made waves with his documentary ‘How to Make Money Selling Drugs’ (2012), a critique of the racist war on drugs heralded into existence by the Nixon administration. Scores of research have proven that the war on drugs not only failed but has been used as a tool of politicians paid to feed America’s for-profit prison system.

Taking the American prison model to task in the 2018 documentary ‘Survivors Guide to Prison’, Cooke served as narrator, cinematographer, editor, and visual effects artist. ‘Survivors Guide to Prison’ featured over 25 appearances from activists, such as musicians Chuck D (Public Enemy) and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), as well as actors Patricia Arquette, Danny Trejo and Susan Sarandon, among many others.

In 2016, Cooke wrote and directed the short film ‘ReLoveLution’, a Bernie Sanders biopic, along with actor Mark Ruffalo. Cooke also served on Sanders’ presidential campaign trail as a surrogate and spokesperson.

His new YouTube series, ‘Survivors Guide to Earth’ has generated over 100 million views with its comedic take on unfortunate realities of living the “game” of life.

Often taking to social media, particularly Facebook, Cooke delivers at length, with reason and explanation, the causes and conditions of corruption and injustice plaguing America today. Not only does he provide a clear message, but he also offers pragmatic solutions, actionable at the level of the American citizen.

Tom Morello, one of Cooke’s guest stars in ‘Survivors Guide to Prison’, is a Harvard graduate and an innovative guitar player whose band (Rage Against the Machine) once incorporated the words of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ into song, “Who controls the past now, controls the future. Who controls the present now, controls the past. Who controls the past now, controls the future. Who controls the present now? Now testify! …it’s right outside your door, now testify!”

Speaking up is largely the role Matthew Cooke has assumed because he believes. He believes in morality, he believes in equality and he believes in the very philosophies and precepts that every great leader of justice has stood upon before him.

Follow Matthew Cooke on Twitter @matthewcooke; on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram @matthewcookeofficial