In his radio address this weekend, President Bush declared: “Americans can proudly say that we have overcome the institutionalized bigotry that Dr. King fought.” But while Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is commemorated with a national holiday, and his message of nonviolent action for civil rights is widely celebrated, the US has failed to learn from many of the teachings of Martin Luther King.
Later in the program, well hear from controversial actor/activist Danny Glover, who has consistently come under criticism for saying that the United States is “one of the main purveyors of violence in this world.” This is a claim that King himself made, when he criticized the U.S. war in Vietnam. We heard part of that speech on Democracy Now! last week.
For Martin Luther King, a commitment to conscience often meant going against the tide of public opinion, but always refusing to bow to that which is unjust. In 1967, King gave this speech on civil disobedience before his congregation at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, just five months before he was assassinated. Its called “But if Not”.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, 1967