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[Dreaming of Economic Justice] Martin Luther King Jr. Day

I have to say that Dr. King’s birthday [1] is one of the few holidays that I stop and reflect about the nation and how it is changing. I spend time listening to his August 23, 1963 “I have a Dream speech” each year. Here’s the text. [2]

Although King is best known for his civil rights work, he was a staunch advocate for economic justice [3]. In the months before he was killed, he had been working on the Poor People’s Campaign and calling for an economic bill of rights. When he was assassinated in 1968, he was in Memphis supporting a sanitation workers’ strike.

I remember moving to southern Delaware from Massachusetts when I was 7 in 1967, the first year of integrated busing in the small community where we lived. Delaware is a Mason-Dixon [4] state and segregation was very much alive and well back then. A formidable experience to say the least.

Just try and imagine those same words as he spoke them in 1963 under an entirely different social context.

Here is one of my favorite MLK quotes.

I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.