Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States. It’s a national holiday (what Europeans refer to as a “bank holiday”) and as such schools, federal and state offices, and (yes) banks are closed.
Today, you’ll find countless posts on the life of MLK, Jr. and stories of the struggles he faced in his pursuit of non-violent opposition to hatred, bigotry, and racism. The Civil Rights Movement, as it came to be called here, of the 1950s and early 60s, has become synonymous with the name of Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’ll not repeat those stories. Instead, I want to leave you with three quotes of his that have stayed with me over the years, quotes that I hope will speak to you too as we enter this new, very strange time in our country. And, I’m interspersing three quotes with charts I recently saw from the Brookings Institute. They are self-explanatory.
1. From a Speech to his staff, 1966:
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… Call it what you may, call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”
2. From a Speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967:
And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society… Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis.”
3. From a Speech at Bishop Charles Mason Temple of the Church of God in Christ in support of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike March 18, 1968, two weeks before he was assassinated:
If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell.
How about you? How will you remember Martin Luther King, Jr. this year?
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January 18: Staying (Getting?) Involved, a post in anticipation of Friday’s inauguration
January 25: The Women’s March on Washington, my personal reflections
February 1: My Proposed Mission Statement, what I’ve learned from the survey monkey questionnaire you filled out for me. One more week for you to hop over and add your thoughts. You needn’t be a subscriber or a blogger to give me your thoughts.
February 8: My first guest post for 2017. “What I
learned learnt about …” (You’ll just have to drop by and read for yourself).