Martin Luther King Jr was an American civil rights leader. Most around the world know him from his "I Have A Dream" speech that he delivered during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. However, his image and legacy are often white-washed to fit the "non-violent" and agreeable Martin Luther King that many of us are familiar with today. Here are 6 radical quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.
If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated and segregated, I don't want peace. If peace means being complacently adjusted to a deadening status quo, I don't want peace. If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don't want it. Peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but the existence of justice for all people. - Excerpt fron King's "When Peace Becomes Obnoxious" speech delivered on 18 March 1956 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor—both black and white, here and abroad. If Negroes and poor whites do not participate in the free flow of wealth within our economy, they will forever be poor, giving their energies, their talents and their limited funds to the consumer market but reaping few benefits and services in return. The way to end poverty is to end the exploitation of the poor, ensure them a fair share of the government services and the nation’s resources. - Excerpt from King's "The Three Evils of Society" speech delivered at the National Conference on New Politics on August 31, 1967.
Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That's the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system. - from King's conversation on March 27, 1986, with Harry Belafonte, as written in Belafonte's 2011 memoir, My Song.
The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and racism. The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power. - King to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) board on March 30, 1967.
A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. - King on April 4, 1967 in his speech against the Vietnam war in Riverside Church, New York City.
I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquillity and the status quo than about justice and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention. - Excerpt from King's "The Other America" speech at Grosse Pointe High School on March 14, 1968.