“The American people are infected with racism.” -Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.

As a person of a mixed ethnic and religious background, Dr. Martin Luther King was a very important figure and role model for the morals and values we lived by as Americans. We were fortunate to connect with former NAACP President of the Montgomery County, MD chapter, Mary Betters. She was able to recount how she felt standing behind Dr. King elevated on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of 250,000 people of all races and classes back in 1963. “Black people as a group looked forward to this day. The day when we were going to be judged based on our character. Dr. King was so motivating, so down to earth, he was a good church man. He wasn’t impressed by himself. It is great to see that some of the things he was talking about on that day have been carried out into the world.” Dr. King not only stimulated the minds of millions of African-Americans, but also empowered all disenfranchised people to reflect and act on the civil injustices society had implemented at the time.

Dr. Martin Luther King is often grouped with the more conservative side of black activism. When comparing Dr. King’s ideology and the message of his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech to the writings or philosophy of other leading black activists such as Malcolm X or Angela Davis, his temperament may seem a bit mellow. If you look past the grade-school teachings of what you learned about Dr. King from back in the day, you will find that he was not some old black man complaining about young dudes sagging their pants, or the Kumbaya-singing uniter of the races that a lot of white conservatives paint him as; in fact, he encouraged disobedience and self-expression for all African-Americans. Dr. King’s ideas are a timeless representation of the struggles that disenfranchised people of color face, and remain relevant as a source to draw from when discussing modern politics, religious debates, and civil disobedience. These historical lessons from the past always affect our future. It’s because of people like Dr. King that every single person within our society have the right to get this money and work for that check. Here are some of his more radical ideas pretaining to economics, racism, politics, and civil disobedience:

“If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell.” -Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Birmingham Jail photo

“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world : My own Government, I can not be Silent.” -Beyond Vietnam Speech

Martin Luther King Jr.

“Nonviolent protest must now mature to a new level…mass civil disobedience…There must be more than a statement to the larger society, there must be a force that interrupts its functioning at some key point.” -Inconvenient Hero

Martin Luther King Jr.

“For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of society, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values.” -Inconvenient Hero