Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech is rightly regarded as one of the shining moments in American oratory. But on our yearly day devoted to the Civil Rights leader, we think it's appropriate to shed some light on King's lesser-known words that hold particular resonance in the debates we're still having today.
On America's economic structure:
"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
"We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."
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"I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
On keeping the peace:
"True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice."
On church and state:
"Softminded persons have revised the Beautitudes to read "Blessed are the pure in ignorance: for they shall see God." This has led to a widespread belief that there is a conflict between science and religion. But this is not true. There may be a conflict between softminded religionists and toughminded scientists, but not between science and religion. ... Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary."
"Nowhere have the riots won any concrete improvement such as have the organized protest demonstrations. When one tries to pin down advocates of violence as to what acts would be effective, the answers are blatantly illogical. Sometimes they talk of overthrowing racist state and local governments and they talk about guerrilla warfare. They fail to see that no internal revolution has ever succeeded in overthrowing a government by violence unless the government had already lost the allegiance and effective control of its armed forces."