I've seen lots of Martin Luther King Jr. quotes making the rounds on Facebook since the death of Osama bin Laden. They've been quotes about loving our enemies, which seem especially apt right now as Americans process and debate the appropriate reaction to bin Laden's death.
It seems like there is a King quote for any occasion. This reminds me of another one I came across recently:
"There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism"
This is not the MLK my generation learned about in elementary school. The watered-down Dr. King we were taught was solely focused on civil rights for African-Americans. He had "a dream" about a future where Blacks and Whites were equal. And that was all.
But the real King--who hasn't yet been erased from history--fought for civil rights and economic justice and peace and knew that these things could not be separated or viewed in isolation. This is why his speeches, especially the later ones, are filled with references to worker's rights, unions, Vietnam and defense spending.
Here's the quote in more context:
"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."
This was King trying to put it all together. Is anyone on the national stage doing that today?