Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of fighting for racial equality helped change the world, however, his fight for economic justice is too often left out of the discussion of who he was a leader, activist and change agent. Dr. King understood “that the inseparable twin of racial injustice is economic injustice” and many of his writings and speeches reflect this philosophy.
Dr. King’s economic lessons are still relevant today, and below is a list of a few resources that reflect his philosophy on economic justice and provide great resources for those who continue the struggle.
- “The False gods of Money” is an excellent sermon that Dr. King delivered on July 19, 1953. In this sermon, Dr. King described three problems that occur when people worship money. First, people are more concerned about making a living than making a life. Second, this concern is accompanied by a selfishness that justifies attaining money by any means including exploitation, cheating, and robbery. Third, King argued that those who worship money breed what he called “moral cowardice and corruption.”
- Dr. King’s efforts with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Operation Breadbasket, 1963 March on Washington, the Memphis Sanitation Strike, and the Poor People’s Campaign, for example, also offer great insight on his philosophy on economic justice.
In 1967, while secluded in a beach house in Jamaica, Dr. King penned Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? In this book, he states that “the economic plight of the masses of Negroes has worsened. The gap between the wages of the Negro worker and those of the white worker has widened. Slums are worse and Negroes attend more thoroughly segregated schools today than in 1954.” This statement is relevant today.
The video below is a short compilation of speeches where Dr. King addressed economic justice.