Martin Luther King, Jr. too often becomes reduced to his I Have a Dream or his I Have Seen the Mountaintop speeches. And even within those famous addresses, there is much that is left out.
Radical nonviolent resistance led up to the I Have a Dream speech. A radical class consciousness drew him to Memphis to support striking sanitation workers during the lead up to what would have been a second march on Washington as part of a Poor People’s Campaign against poverty.
King was stridently anti-war, anti-poverty, and this he saw as part of the civil rights struggle. He knew the triple engines of racism, classism, and militarism are intertwined in the ongoing battle of oppressed peoples.
This weekend, like most Martin Luther King days that have gone before it, we will hear famous words from the great man, but it’s his words we won’t hear that are the words we truly need to hear. We don’t need to hear his prettied up words on diversity. We need to hear his tough words on class, on peace making, and transforming ourselves.
Here’s a small but effective sampling of some things from King we might hear rather than I have a Dream: