If Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he would be 82. As we honor his legacy, let us remember what he stood for. His principles are just as relevant today as they were 42 years ago. He stood for justice everywhere and spoke out against injustice everywhere. If he were alive today, he would speak on health care reform, the Dream Act, against the Afghanistan war, on jobs and the economy and the lack of civility in our political process, to name a few. Here’s what I believe he would say based on his previous teachings, writings and speeches.
Health Care Reform
Martin Luther King would unequivocally support universal health care reform. He knew that “injustice anywhere was a threat to justice everywhere”. Denying access to health care for over 31 million uninsured Americans, those with pre-existing conditions, victims of domestic abuse, and young adults is an injustice.
Afghanistan War and Iraq War
Martin Luther King opposed the Vietnam War. In 1967, he spoke against the cost of war and the effect of the war on our country. His words are just as relevant today to the Afghan war and occupation and war in Iraq. He said. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”. He knew that war cost a double price both here and abroad. His words against the Vietnam War could easily be interposed with the word Afghan. In speaking out against the Vietnam War, he said:
“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours”.
I believe Dr. King would support the Dream Act allowing for young children brought to this country illegally to have an opportunity for legal status upon entering college or joining the military. I don’t believe he would be concerned about illegal immigrants taking jobs away from American citizens and particularly African Americans. He would know that our issues with illegal immigrants are based on fear and hate. Dr. King would say today:
“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated”.
As Dr. King would celebrate his 82nd birthday, he would be delighted to meet with the 82nd Attorney General, Eric Holder, the first African American Attorney General. He would be pleased to meet with President Barack Obama, the first African American president. He would believe that both are a fulfillment of his dream but not the fulfillment of his dream.
He would be extremely troubled at the lack of civility in the political process and the warring of words in the media spewing hate and racism.
Dr. King would still be optimistic about our country’s future. He would never think our glory days are behind us. He would still believe that we as a people will reach the Promised Land. And he would say from what he endured in his life time that despite high unemployment, high foreclosure rates, lack of jobs and struggling economy that we will overcome. And he would truly say to America…Keep the Faith.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a lawyer and political and legal commentator. She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a native of Baltimore, MD