I have to say that Dr. King’s birthday 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.

Although King is best known for his civil rights work, he was a staunch advocate for economic justice. 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 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.

13 Responses to “[Dreaming of Economic Justice] Martin Luther King Jr. Day”

  1. Angie Fran says:

    Thank you for mentioning King’s fight for economic justice. One of King’s most central legacies often ignored in King holiday articles and remembrances is his stance against global poverty and his encouragement for all Americans to learn about and combat it. Here’s a link for downloading a free 2-sided inspirational flyer about Martin Luther King Jr. and what he fought for in this exact regard here: http://tinyurl.com/KingFlyer The global poverty statistics included in the flyer – those in King’s time – and those in the present – are shocking. Passing on the information this flyer contains would certainly be an excellent way at both honoring King’s vision, and opening others’ eyes to the currently still dreadful state of humanity. **Can you take to heart the words King spoke just 4 days before he was gunned down? That’s what this flyer will ask you. Take the King Challenge – in his own words – and see. You can also get the flyer by emailing me at [email protected]

  2. Edd Gillespie says:

    I believe if there was economic equality of the kind King envisioned, here and over the globe, the gyrations born of exploitation and cheating at the top of the chain wouldn’t have nearly the impact we are now trying to live with and solve. It just boggles the mind that poverty of the kind that produces not anything to eat still exists.

  3. Tim says:

    Economic Justice? That term is disgusting. The implication is that capitalism is racist and certain demographics are solely responsible for the wellbeing of other demographics, which is no longer the case.

    For some odd reason, the arm-chair economists can’t understand this.

    Please stick to real estate.

  4. Tim – That term doesn’t imply that capitalism is racist at all. No implication that one demographic is responsible for another. What planet are you from? Good grief.

  5. Edd Gillespie says:


    Sticking to real estate, do you think there is anything in the current real estate economic situation that could have been avoided? If so what and how?

  6. Bill says:

    “Economic justice” is simply code for socialism. As the 20th century has taught those of us who paid attention, collectivism does not work. Individuals pursuing their own self-interests are responsible for prosperity, not government or activists. And, most global poverty is caused either by choice (in the case of hunter gatherer societies) or bad government (see Cuba, Africa, North Korea, etc).

  7. Edd Gillespie says:

    And individuals pursuing their own best interests is simply code for sanctioned rip offs and bailouts. Capitalism is not a synonym for “free market.” When “free market” means that everybody that it needs to function has the same access to information and there is no longer a “lack of transparency” then maybe it will no longer be a pipe dream. As it is, “free market” gives freedom to some to rip off victims for profit. If collectivism is synonymous for economic justice, which of course it is not, then “free market” is the synonym for capitalism, which it ain’t. Why is it that free market advocates are defensive about equal opportunity, accountability and honesty? Or am I not being fair? Will the free market thrive only in darkness, the tool of a few?

  8. Bill says:

    Edd: Where did you get your ideas about the world, comrade? Free market capitalism does not require a system without any legal foundations. There are still laws against fraud and theft even in a laissez faire setting. I would suggest you study the economic ascent of Hong Kong in the 20th century for a clear picture of how free market capitalism can lift a people out of poverty to great material heights. Oh and BTW, no one is opposed to equality of opportunity. Most conservatives are opposed to equality of outcome which is what this “economic justice” talk always ends up with as it is the logical conclusion of that concept.

  9. Edd Gillespie says:

    I had the opportunity as a guest of the US Navy to visit Hong Kong in the 60s when it was still in the possession of Britain and I was defending the US from military threats during the Cold War and the Cuban crises. I did study it, but by far its most noticeable feature was the grinding poverty in the shadows of its sky scrapers where the world did business. The “free market” there and then was irrelevant to hundreds of thousands of people as it has proven to be here since Reaganonomics gained a foothold. We do not need a “free market” capitalism that precludes entry. As for the legal foundations of the “free market”, apparently they are inadequate, paralyzed, broken or silenced. Maybe “free market” means free from scrutiny and principles other than greed. Surely you can find a better example of a “free market” economy that benefits the people than Hong Kong, and hopefully we don’t have to emulate it to consider ourselves a democratic society. Or is it that the pie is only so big and not everybody can have a piece so don’t invite them? We learned a lesson from the depression that was shelved by Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes. Unfettered, capitalism will ravenously consume the country and then the world. And the alternative to excessive capitalism is not a communistic or socialistic form of government. Our government must be vigilant in exposing fraud and theft so that the crimes can be prosecuted. The “free market” simply has no mechanism to do that, much to the chagrin of Greenspan and company. He apparently believed that self interest would prevent what happened. Well, he was dead wrong. So tell me, how does the equality of opportunity actually work in any “free market” we have ever witnessed? Or is that just theoretical and rhetorical at this point?

  10. Tim says:


    Some could have easily prevented the real estate bubble, ending fractional reserve lending with a 100% backed system. The real estate bubble is a symptom of excessive credit, which is due to the fractional reserve banking system.

    The free market is anything but. People who admonish it really don’t know much about what they are talking about.

  11. Edd Gillespie says:

    “Free market” is just fine with me so long as it is also completely transparent. It simply hasn’t worked since it is not. And so far there is no indication that it ever will be. You are correct that I don’t understand the free market, having never seen one. But, I do feel qualified to admonish(?)(actually to criticize) what I have seen that is called “free.” I guess you are convinced that the economic problems we are facing are the fault of the government. I don’t think so. I think all of it is due to greedy and unrestrained people in the financial sector. The bubble was a market response to phony information. So let’s keep the discussion above the personal. I reject your notion that advocates for an economic theory are automatically better informed.

  12. Bill says:

    Edd: Where have you been? The 1960s ended 40 years ago. Since then, Hong Kong has grown exponentially as a result of the government’s economic policy of “positive nonintervention”. HK now has per capita GDP exceeding that of its former colonial master, Britain, and approaching that of the US. I would suggest a return visit to sweep the cobwebs of the 1960s from your mind.

    And, of course there is a legal framework within which the free market operates. I am not advocating anarchy but ordered liberty. That one even has to explain this to people shows how far this country has strayed from the ideals of its founding.

  13. Tim says:


    Think about what you’re stating. You’re only repeating the op-ed section of the NYT. How can ‘greed’ have ONLY affected the real estate market? So the dot-com bubble was greed? Is that all there is? Can that possibly encompass the entire problem?

    You need to think deeper about WHAT enables individuals to loan out credit excessively. You need to think deeper about the banking system itself. I suggest (in all seriousness) to google ‘Henry Hazlitt’ and ‘Economics in One Lesson’ (it’s free in PDF form online or a local library). It is a very good primer on the Austrain Business Cycle, which will open your eyes to a lot of things.