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As America embarks on another year of celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s purposeful life, I urge White Americans to look outside of the “I Have a Dream” box. It’s time for them to acknowledge Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s efforts have benefited their lives, whether they missed it or not.

As we embark on another year of celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s purposeful life, we urge White Americans to look outside of the “I Have a Dream” box. It’s time for them to acknowledge Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s efforts have benefited their lives, whether they missed it or not.

The picture painted concerning Dr. King’s methods towards civil rights is often palatable for the masses. He was seen as the safer, less extreme alternative to fellow activist Malcolm X. 

He was seen as the safer, less extreme alternative to fellow activist Malcolm X. 

The narrative of his mission has been muddled over time. Within his 39 years of life, White people never revered Dr. King as they would like us to think. 

In 1966, Gallup completed a study that measured his approval rating at 32% favorable and 63% negative. At his death, three out of four White Americans disapproved of him. Roughly 31% of the country felt he brought his untimely assassination on himself. 

This disfavor is directly related to the misinformed belief that MLK’s fight for “Civil Rights” only addressed race. That was not the case. Dr. King was an open opposer to war, capitalism, classism, and misogyny. None of these pillars were grounded entirely in race, but for the betterment of all Americans. 

Some White Americans forget Dr. King opposed war

Within his latter radical years, King began to stray from the standard idea of Civil Rights. He intentionally opposed the Vietnam War, declaring America’s aggression was a “violation of the 1954 Geneva Accord that promised self-determination.” He continued to attack the war on both moral and economic grounds. 

In his speech, “The Casualties of the War in Vietnam”, he argued that American power should be “harnessed to the service of peace and human beings, not an inhumane power [unleashed] against defenseless people.” 

“It is not enough to say ‘We must not wage war.’ It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but the positive affirmation of peace.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Worker’s Rights

During a speech two weeks before his death, Dr. King spoke with a sanitation works union. 

“For we know now that it isn’t enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t have enough money to buy a hamburger?” the iconic leader stated. 

Dr. King was an avid supporter of labor unions. As an active member of the Poor People’s Campaign, Dr. King championed the nation’s transformation into a “people-oriented society.” His persistence in this area has evolved into living wages for workers, eliminating child labor, pension plans, and more. 

“The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Women’s Rights

Lastly, wildly overlooked by White Americans was the fact that Dr. King was an early advocate for women’s rights. 

Women often played a supporting role on the frontline of the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King was dedicated to assisting women address the issues that plagued them.

Outside of the norms of a Southern preacher, Dr. King was vocal about his favor of contraception and sexual education. He served on the sponsoring committee of a contraception study for Planned Parenthood. With his findings, he wrote, “he hoped the federal and state governments will begin to educate people to the need for such (contraceptive) devices.”

“The federal and state governments will begin to appropriate large sums to educate people to the need for such (contraceptive) devices.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor was an organization formed to stop White men from raping and attacking Black women.

Dr. King and fellow activist Rosa Parks received training from the organization. They were taught to provide assistance to victims and resources to communities to prevent such acts.

He marched along with the mothers who had lost their sons to war, racial hate crimes, and women who wanted fair wages and workplace advancement. While we have progressed as a nation to a point where people from all backgrounds celebrate Dr. King’s memory, dismissing his efforts in all aspects of life is an injustice to his legacy.

Martie Bowser

Martie serves as the Entertainment Reporter for The Black Wall Street Times. She covers numerous topics including viral social moments to the most exciting happenings in Black Hollywood. For tips or story...

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