On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Revisit His Calls to Action for Economic Justice

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Revisit His Calls to Action for Economic Justice

King pushed for a multiracial movement to end poverty and challenged the country's capitalist framework for prosperity and opportunity.

Staff Writer
Courtesy of The U.S. National Archives online catalog

(Courtesy of The U.S. National Archives on Flickr.)


The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave several momentous speeches during his lifetime, and one from 1968 on the moral injustice of poverty and racial discrimination remains profoundly relevant in present day.

King delivered his "The Other America" speech in New York City, before a crowd at an event hosted by a local union. On the 50th anniversary of King's speech in 2018, Beacon Broadside shared key excerpts that show the pertinence of his words.

Nearly five years after his "I Have a Dream" vision for the United States, King spoke of the need for radical change to the country's capitalist framework for prosperity and opportunity:

"There are times, and I must confess it very honestly as many of us have to confess it as we look at contemporary developments, that I’m often disenchanted with some segments of the power structure of the labor movement. But in these moments of disenchantment, I begin to think of unions like Local 1199 and it gives me renewed courage and vigor to carry on . . . and the feeling that there are some unions left that will always maintain the radiant and vibrant idealism that brought the labor movement into being. And I would suggest that if all of labor would emulate what you have been doing over the years, our nation would be closer to victory in the fight to eliminate poverty and injustice."

Read the full post at Beacon Broadside.

The excerpts are from the book "The Radical King," a collection of King's own words that amplify his advocacy for the working poor and for humane, people-centered economic systems.

Experience Martin Luther King, Jr. Deliver Another Speech On Economic Justice

On April 14, 1967, King gave a similar address at Stanford University, also known as "The Other America," which was recorded.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, or The King Center, shared archival footage on its YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@TheKingCenter.