Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another MLK Quote To Chew On

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?

3 comments:

Camp Papa said...

I need to apologise in advance for the length of this post, but I want to reinforce your point. Here are three of my favorite MLK quotes. They Were not spoken nor written in succession, but they are all speaking to the same issues.

"Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism hat life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is neither in the thesis of communism nor in the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in synthesis that combines the truths of both."

"I am aware that there are many who wince at distinction between property and persons--(there are those) who hold both sacrosanct. My views are not so rigid. A life is sacred. Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on; it is not man."

"Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love." 

Elizabeth said...

You know the quote circulating about "loving our enemies" was actually not QUITE a correct MLK quote...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/martin-luther-king-jr-misquoted-after-osama-bin-laden-killed/2011/05/03/AFNKPjfF_blog.html

Dave said...

CampPapa, those are all good ones. If I remember, the third is one of your faves.

Liz, I just read that article. Interesting how it got started on someone's Facebook page. The first sentence was the woman's introduction, then the rest was King's actual quote.