Dr. Martin Luther King Jr will forever hold a place in the hearts of millions of people around the world. The immediate need for freedom from racism, discrimination and flat out brutality toward African Americans will forever be King’s message. However, Dr. King also used his platform to shed light on global poverty.
He expressed the need for poverty to be abolished and the need for nations to come together to combat this growing problem. Here are excerpts of Dr. King’s written documents concerning the dire need to end poverty.
Excerpts from Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize address in 1964:
“A second evil which plagues the modern world is that of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, it projects it’s nagging, prehensile tentacles in lands and villages all over the world. Almost two thirds of the peoples of the world go to bed hungry at night. They are undernourished, ill-housed, and shabbily clad. Many of them have no houses or beds to sleep in. Their only beds are the sidewalks of the cities and the dusty roads of the villages. Most of these poverty-stricken children of God have never seen a physician or a dentist.”
“So it is obvious that if a man is to redeem his spiritual and moral ‘lag,’ he must go all out to bridge the social and economic gulf between the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s’ of the world. Poverty is one of the most urgent items on the agenda of modern life.”
“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.”
“The time has come for an all- out world war against poverty.”
“The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.'”
Excerpts from Dr. King’s “Let My People Go” speech. Human Rights Day December 10, 1965:
“Africa does have spectacular savages and brutes today, but they are not black. They are the sophisticated white rulers of South Africa who profess to be cultured, religious and civilized, but whose conduct and philosophy stamp them unmistakably as modern-day barbarians.
We are in an era in which the issue of human rights is the central question confronting all nations. In this complex struggle an obvious but little appreciated fact has gained attention-the large majority of the human race is non-white-yet it is that large majority which lives in hideous poverty. While millions enjoy an unexampled opulence in developed nations, ten thousand people die of hunger each and every day of the year in the undeveloped world.”
An excerpt from “Where do we go from Here: Chaos or Community” written in 1967:
Sadly this is Dr. King’s last book before he was tragically assassinated.
“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed matter: the guaranteed income.”
“The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.”
Nearly fifty years after these words were breathed, they still reign true; especially since poverty continues to be a problem for millions of people in 2013. Let us not allow Dr. King‘s words to remain in the past. We must give them life again and continue to make this world a better place, as Dr. Martin Luther King did nearly fifty years ago.
– Amy Robinson