Monday, January 18, 2010

Dr. King was about more than legal racial equality

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday weekend, I always like to bring out the divergence between what Dr. King was all about and how he's generally remembered.

Nowadays, the Rev. Dr. King is typically remembered solely for the milquetoast (by today's standards) idea of legal racial equality. As important a first step as that was, the work of him and his colleagues was about much more than that. Much like Muhammad Ali, he's become a sanitized secular public saint stripped of their more meaningful and uncomfortable opinions.

King was also a vocal activist on behalf of social justice and against poverty and militarism. In fact, that's what he was agitating for when he was assassinated, the idea that workers (sanitation in that case) should be treated as human beings. He also became very controversial for speaking out about the injustices inherent in the US war against the North Vietnamese people.

Two recent pieces explore further the broader legacy of the Nobel Peace Laureate. This one by E. Ethelbert Miller on NPR.org and this one by Matt Funiciello on timesunion.com.

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