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The Complete MLK

February 14, 2013

Monday, January 16, 2012The Complete MLK
Today is the day that the u.s. has set aside to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. To do so appropriately I suggest that it is essential to remember what Dr. King stood for. I fear that in today’s world his memory has been sanitized and minimalized. He is remembered almost exclusively for his actions to move for the civil rights of African-americans. This was in fact an important part of what the man stood for, and his accomplishments in this regard are hard to overstate. But, it is only a small part of what his actions were all about. Remember, there was the “Poor People’s March on Washington”. Dr. King was a champion of the cause or economic justice for the marginalized of all races. He was committed to the related cause of fair contracts for labor unions and was active the the movement of santitation workers at the time of his death. He was also an active voice in the anti-Viet Nam war movement.

Also remember, Dr. King was not a popular personality with the majority of the u.s. population. More welcomed his death than mourned it at the time. He served a prophetic role, and I use that term carefully in the full Biblical sense of the term, calling a culture to see its sins and to turn from them. A study of the Old Testament prophets will show striking similarities between their message and that of Dr. King. Their messages were rarely well received as well and many of them shared Dr. King’s fate.

Were he alive today, I have to believe that Dr. King would still be active addressing the same issues. Economic injustice in this country has increased not decreased as evidenced by the growing gap between the rich and the poor and the growing numbers of people consigned to living in poverty. The nation has involved itself in a chain of wars of convenience that have been fought largely by the poorest segments of our population, the joy of a volunteer military, and brought suffering and death to millions. Working people in this country have been faced with ambivalence to hostility in their efforts to organize and seek representation in contracts. And, even his dream of a culture where, “content of character” would trump color of skin still seems a long way off.

Remember Dr. King on this day. But, remember him in the fullness of his message.

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