What would Martin Luther King say and do?

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Marti...

Martin Luther King at White House meet with President Lydon Johnson

On this day when we commemorate the life of the great Martin Luther King Jr. I wonder what he would think of the actions of today’s leaders and of society as a whole. I am conflicted about how I would answer that.

I think its odd how two people can listen to the same thing and hear two different things. There is no question MLK wanted economic equality for all and for aid and assistance being provided for all of the most disadvantaged. “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”- Martin Luther King Jr.

In my case the life and speeches of Doctor King left me with one resonating theme, self-reliance and self-determination. Sure he wanted whites to quit oppressing black people, and beating and murdering them as well, by the way. But he mostly wanted to get them out of the way. He wanted black people to have the same economic opportunities of white people and to strive and struggle for their own level of success. “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” – MLK

So what would Dr. King think of the Tea Party movement and it’s message of responsible government spending, and individual liberty? Would he embrace the Occupy movement and steer their seemingly rudderless ship? What would he think of Barrack Obama, our nations first black President?

What I’m certain of is that he would be heard and he would not be happy about much of what happens today. I’m sure that the intractable positions taken by Democrats and Republicans in Congress would disgust him and he would urge mutual compromise. I am absolutely certain he would reject Obama’s constant, unrelenting class warfare. And while supporting the Occupy movement I’m sure he would sharpen their message so that they didn’t sound and look like the dirty, ungrateful, whiny sons and daughters of privilege that so many of them appear to be.

What do you think. What would King say and do today. Tell me and let’s make this a discussion in which Martin would be proud.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.


  1. Thanks 🙂

  2. The only credible remark in this post is that it is true two people can hear/read the same thing and come away with two totally different interpretations. With that said, based on this post, it is clear that you and I hear two totally different things in King’s messages from his life’s work. How you come to the conclusion, with absolute certainty, no less, that “[King] would reject Obama’s constant, unrelenting class warfare” is purely astonishing. You ever hear of the Poor People’s Campaign? I guess that doesn’t qualify as class warfare (in your cherry-picked context, of course).

    It’s clear you’re a status quo, pro-Establishment kind of guy. I get that. However, what I do not get is your continual attempt to present your view as if it were a populous one. Further, if your understanding of King can be summed up as “he wanted whites to quit oppressing black people, and beating and murdering them as well, by the way.” You TOTALLY missed the entire point of the civil rights (which actually should be human rights) movement. Oppression, brutality and murder or organized domestic terrorism are the by-products of a system predicated on inequality.The goal of the movement or struggle was/is to bring full civil rights and equality under the law to ALL Americans. So, while the movement essentially had a “black face” the scope of the movement included ALL people of disadvantaged classes. And, it’s hard to imagine rich or powerful people included in that “disadvantaged” category. King understood that the way we treat the “least of us” defines the security and protection for ALL of us.

    So, if you don’t like Obama or his administration’s policies?…Ok. You don’t like the people challenging what they consider an immoral wealth structure fueled by corporatism?…Fine. But, don’t camouflage your disdain for them behind a self-serving, warped interpretation of King’s legacy.

    “We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty”
    Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • Just once Leon I’d love it if you could state your point of view without feeling a need to tear down me (the other side). Your argument is seriously lacking if in order to make it you have to dehumanize the person with whom you are arguing. My interpretation is neither warped nor self-serving. It’s an interpretation. On the contrary, unlike you who seems to believe each and every one of us needs hand outs in order to survive I believe in people, all people, and in their inherent ability to live and thrive. The fact that most have to struggle in order to do so is just something you will have to come to grips with. Failing to do so will only limit your own experiences and achievements.
      And of course I know Dr. King’s message was for all Americans. But in the interest of keeping it simple, as a 300-500 word blog necessitates, I referenced the most serious challenges faced by the civil rights movement in the era of King. I’m sorry I couldn’t more adequately expand on it to your liking (Really, I don’t care). Perhaps now you could actually address the question in the blog which was to ask what would King say or do. See if you can do that in a positive uplifting manner as King did. Are you capable?

      • Enjoy the rest of your King holiday, Michael, but don’t use this day to push a so-called conservative agenda and then get upset when you’re called out on it. And, for the record, I believe in hand-ups and no hand-outs, which is always subject to interpretation. While I favor giving to people, you seem to favor giving to corporations. Which is not always bad, but do us all a favor and at least claim it.

        As for struggling, I don’t travel 7 hours a week back and forth from business school to sit on my ass waiting for a handout. I have owned my own business and intend to flex my entrepreneurial muscle even further with an MBA. I am a descendant of those brave women and men, who, as the saying goes: took a stand, simply so I could take a seat. I was borne out a tradition of self-reliant people who have worked hard in this country and around the world. We remember Martin as a man for all people, not political parties and foolishness you’ve espoused over the last week.

        And, be clear I’m not dehumanizing you, I’m addressing what you SAY not who you are. I have no reason to attack you or your character, but I do find much to be concerned with regarding the content of your messages.

        So, what would Brother Martin say: Be your brother’s keeper. Keep fighting the good fight! And, challenge your brothers with love.

        Peace, be with you brother.

      • Thank you for your comments Leon. Peace and success be with you too.

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