“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”- Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail
It scares me how relevant this quote is today. “Anyone who lives in the United States can never be considered an outsider within its bounds.” Anyone. Sick. Poor. Of any religion or no religion. Of any race, gender, or sexual orientation. We cannot keep alienating our people. Because they are OUR people. Our criminals are ours as are our smartest scientists and our richest business persons. The law doesn’t change based on of these differentiations. Because “we the people” should mean all of us.
I read Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail for the first time in it’s entirety today. I’m not proud that it’s taken this long, but I have a series of other quotes just as powerful as this one that I can’t help but share as well. These are but a few and all from the letter, but they are the ones I find most hard-hitting and sadly still very relevant today in more ways than one. I encourage you to read the full letter here.
“My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.” – Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” – Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail
“Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say ‘wait.'” – Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” – Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail
“So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice of the extension of justice?” – Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail
I want to say more, to yell and scream and fight for others to see the injustices going on in America still today, but shouting before understanding can be a harmful thing. Today I just learn and reflect. But I will always stand up for what is right. I encourage you today to do more than just share a picture or an overused quote. There’s so much deeper. Look for it. Read. I am leaving only this here so that I may keep learning the rest of today. And every day.