martin-luther-king's-principles-of-political-economy - narrated

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A presentation on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the evolution of his perspectives on how to end poverty in the United States.

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The Political Economy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edward J. Dodson, M.L.A. January, 2012

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Henry George

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“The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature, and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves, driven to their task either by the lash of a master or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who perform it for their own sake, and not that they may get more to eat or drink, or wear, or display. In a state of society where want is abolished, work of this sort could be enormously increased. ."

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“That chattel slavery is not the worst form of slavery we know from the fact that in countries where it has prevailed irrespective of race distinctions, the ranks of chattel slaves have been recruited from the ranks of the free poor, who, driven by distress, have sold themselves or their children. …”

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“And I think no one who reads our daily papers can doubt that even already, in the United States, there are many who, did chattel slavery, without race distinction, exist among us, would gladly sell themselves or their children, and who would really make a good exchange for their nominal freedom in doing so. …”

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“We have not abolished slavery. We never can abolish slavery, until we honestly accept the fundamental truth asserted by the Declaration of Independence and secure to all the equal and unalienable rights with which they are endowed by their Creator. If we cannot or will not do that, then, as a matter of humanity and social stability, it might be well, would it avail, to consider whether it were not wise to amend our constitution and permit poor whites and blacks alike to sell themselves and their children to good masters. …”

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“If we must have slavery, it were better in the form in which the slave knows his owner, and the heart and conscience and pride of that owner can be appealed to. Better breed children for the slaves of good, Christian, civilized people, than breed them for the brothel or the penitentiary.”

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Booker T. Washington High School, Atlanta, Georgia

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Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia

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Henry David Thoreau

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“During my student days I read Henry David Thoreau's essay ‘On Civil Disobedience’ for the first time. Here, in this courageous New Englander's refusal to pay his taxes and his choice of jail rather than support a war that would spread slavery's territory into Mexico, I made my first contact with the theory of nonviolent resistance.”

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Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia

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Crozer Theological Seminary Chester, Pennsylvania

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“I turned to a serious study of the social and ethical theories of the great philosophers, from Plato and Aristotle down to Rousseau, Hobbes, Bentham, Mill, and Locke. All of these masters stimulated my thinking -- such as it was -- and, while finding things to question in each of them, I nevertheless learned a great deal from their study.”

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Karl Marx

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“With all of its false assumptions and evil methods, communism grew as a protest against the hardships of the underprivileged. Communism in theory emphasized a classless society, and a concern for social justice, though the world knows from sad experience that in practice it created new classes and a new lexicon of injustice. The Christian ought always to be challenged by any protest against unfair treatment of the poor.”

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“My reading of Marx also convinced me that truth is found neither in Marxism nor in traditional capitalism. Each represents a partial truth. Historically capitalism failed to see the truth in collective enterprise and Marxism failed to see the truth in individual enterprise. Nineteenth-century capitalism failed to see that life is social and Marxism failed and still fails to see that life is individual and personal.”

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Mordecai Johnson

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Mahatma Gandhi

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“Land and all properties is his who will work it.”

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"Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation."

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"Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes... God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty."

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“To this day the white poor also suffer deprivation and the humiliation of poverty if not of color. ..."

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“It corrupts their lives, frustrates their opportunities and withers their education. In one sense it is more evil for them, because it has confused so many by prejudice that they have supported their own oppressors."

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"You see, my friends, you begin to ask the questions, 'Who owns the oil?' You begin to ask the question, 'Who owns the iron ore?' You begin to ask the question, 'Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?”

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“permitting necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few.”

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“The good and just society is neither the thesis of capitalism nor the antithesis of communism, but a socially conscious democracy which reconciles the truths of individualism and collectivism. ..."

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“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God's children . "

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“The nation will also have to find the answer to full employment, including a more imaginative approach than has yet been conceived for neutralizing the perils of automation. Today, as the skilled and semiskilled Negro attempts to mount the ladder of economic security, he finds himself in competition with the white working man at the very time when automation is scrapping forty thousand jobs a week. ...”

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“Though this is perhaps the inevitable product of social and economic upheaval, it is an intolerable situation, and Negroes will not long permit themselves to be pitted against white workers for an ever-decreasing supply of jobs.”

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“I propose specifically the creation of a national agency that shall provide a job to every person who needs work, young and old, white and Negro. …I propose a job for everyone, not a promise to see if jobs can be found. …"

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“There cannot be social peace when a people have awakened to their rights and dignity and to the wretchedness of their lives simultaneously. If our government cannot create jobs, it cannot govern. It cannot have white affluence amid black poverty and have racial harmony."

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“We must develop a federal program of public works, retraining, and jobs for all -- so that none, white or black, will have cause to feel threatened. At the present time, thousands of jobs a week are disappearing in the wake of automation and other production efficiency techniques.”

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April 3, 1965

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“The illusion of freedom in the North had masked its hideous economic conditions – matriarchal families whose morality was vitiated by perpetual dependence upon welfare programs, levels of unemployment that had actually risen in the decade since Montgomery, and agglutinations of the impoverished in substandard housing that had few equivalents even in the South.” David L. Lewis

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“For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of the society, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values.”

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Strike support rally for sanitation workers -- 1968

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“Where Negroes are confined to the lowest paying jobs, they must get together to organize a union in order to have the kind of power that could enter into collective bargaining with their employers.”

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"We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. …We realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will."

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“Economic expansion alone cannot do the job of improving the employment situation of Negroes. It provides the base for improvement but other things must be constructed upon it, especially if the tragic situation of youth is to be solved. In a booming economy Negro youth are afflicted with unemployment as though in an economic crisis. They are the explosive outsiders of the American expansion.”

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“Depressed living standards for Negroes are not simply the consequence of neglect. Nor can they be explained by the myth of the Negro's innate incapacities, or by more sophisticated rationalization of his acquired infirmities (family disorganization, poor education, etc.). They are a structural part of the economic system in the United States. Certain industries are based on a supply of low-paid, under-skilled and immobile nonwhite labor.”

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"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

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“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective -- the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income .”

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Richard Lischer

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“Martin Luther King was the last of the great liberals in America to identify the purposes of social reform with those of Christianity. …He routinely cast the struggle for civil rights in terms of light and darkness, good and evil, and the two kingdoms.”

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"We call our demonstration a campaign for jobs and income because we feel that the economic question is the most crucial that black people, and poor people generally, are confronting. …"

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“There is a literal depression in the Negro community. When you have mass unemployment in the Negro community, it's called a social problem; when you have mass unemployment in the white community, it's called a depression. ..."

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“The fact is, there is a major depression in the Negro community. The unemployment rate is extremely high, and among Negro youth, it goes up as high as forty percent in some cities."

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