I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today–my own government.
– MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr.
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
– MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr.
Presenting an Outline
It is clear to me that many of the politician who invoke MLK Jr’s name to curry favor with the public generally do not know the full breadth of his message. What is particularly sad is that while everyone remembers the I Have a Dream Speech, no mention is made of the plethora of other poignant speeches Dr King. There is one speech in particular that took place in Riverside Church in my home of NYC called Beyond Vietnam. Here is an apt summary of the speech:
King’s ”Beyond Vietnam” speech was delivered at the Riverside Church in New York exactly one year before his assassination. Civil rights leaders urged King not to speak out on the Vietnam War, but he said he could not separate issues of economic injustice, racism, war, and militarism.
In our new media today we never draw relationships between economic injustice, racism war and militarism. If you watched the last Presidential elections you can clearly see that a significant majority of our elected officials do not believe that there is such a thing as economic injustice. There are only lazy people who do not want to work. Furthermore the voting rights law was gutted 5 months ago because there was “little evidence of continuing racial discrimination in the states that were required to get pre-clearance before changing their voting laws, although Congress had rather pointedly disagreed when it renewed the Voting Rights Act in 2006, 7 years prior. Also having special ops forces in 134 nations ( 705 of the nations on this earth is not an example of militarism -“the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests.” War, well we are always at war.
I would like then to present to you a hodge-podge of snippets of some of what was at the time and to a certain extent current pretty radical thinking from Dr. King. I tried to present as many original quotes as was possible. In the next installment I will wrap it up, but I think it is important in light of our current political ambiance to look at what was considered radical thinking in the 60’s. One of the shortest but most interesting quotes I found in my search was: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.”.
MLK on Women’s Rights and Family planning
“I do not think it is correct to argue that birth control is sinful. The natural order is given us, not as an absolute finality, but as something to be guided and controlled. […] Changes in social and economic conditions make smaller families desirable, if not necessary. […] A final consideration is that women must be considered as more than ‘breeding machines.’ It is true that the primary obligation of the woman is that of motherhood, but an intelligent mother wants it to be a responsible motherhood — a motherhood to which she has given her consent, not a motherhood due to impulse and chance. And this means birth control in some form. All of these factors, seem to me, to make birth control rationally and morally justifiable.”
MLK on War Militarism
“God didn’t call America to do what she’s doing in the world now. God didn’t call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I’m going to continue to say it. And we won’t stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation. “
How MLK’s Four Idea to battle economic injustice
“that the inseparable twin of racial injustice was economic injustice.” – MLK
“You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. ” -MLK
Here was King’s Four Ideas to battle economic Injustice
- Ratifying an economic bill of rights
- Guaranteeing everyone a basic income
- Building a powerful labor movement
- Guaranteeing a job for anyone who can work