Social Justice and Cute Shoes

News flash:  Martin Luther King’s legacy is far more complex than the mainstream media acknowledges!  

By articulating the connections between racism, imperialism and economic inequality, King showed how struggles for social justice are interrelated.  Today, what I find inspiring and important about MLK’s message (the real one, not the sound bite) is its radicalism.  I use “radical” in the most basic definition of the term–going to the root, origin or source.  King addressed the root causes of racial oppression in American society by pointing to the connections between U.S. economic policies at home and abroad. He fought against the military-industrial complex, founded the Poor People’s Campaign for economic justice, and courageously opposed the Vietnam War.  

On the eve of Obama’s inauguration, it’s tempting to cheer about the progress we’ve made or declare that Obama himself is the realization of King’s dream.  But the very same problems that King most forcefully addressed–racism, militarism, economic injustice–are arguably the most pressing challenges America faces today.  Although we may cheer as Obama is sworn in tomorrow, we also desperately need to think about King’s broader message of human rights and social and international justice.  Well, that and equal access to footwear, because what’s a femme revolution without cute shoes? 😉

So, my lovelies, let’s really honor and celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.  Instead of watching the usual “I Have a Dream” sound bites we get every year, take a look at these MLK quotes, most of which are not likely to make the news today:    

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”

“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

“We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

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6 Responses

  1. Great points SF…Am reading Fareed Zakaria’s Post American World, some interesting parallels with the pre-post occupied India.

  2. Thanks for posting those quotations – made me feel a bit more hopeful 🙂

  3. This is absolutely the best thing I’ve read all day!

  4. i heart you. we were in the mlk parade today – it’s always such a stellar experience, but it brings up such mixed feelings for me.

  5. I second the readers comments. Thank you for the quotes. I’ve been thinking about Harvey Milk and Martin Luther King a lot lately. I wonder who will take up the call for LGBT rights. Who will be our spokesperson to be “radical”.

  6. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

    Preach it! Ain’t it the truth.
    Happy Inauguration Day! (yes, today is an official holiday in my book, lol)

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