The Forgotten History of Martin Luthor King Jr.

Source: Red Letter Christians

Precursor to Johnson’s War on Poverty

If you ask anyone about the Great Society, you automatically assume that it was because of President Lyndon Baines Johnson of Texas. While he did help pass that program which cut poverty in half, Dr. King proposed one several years ago that was even more ambitious. While the Great Society spent $5 billion over the MLK plan called for a more ambitious $50 billion over ten years to fight poverty.

He was a Democratic Socialist

“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.”
Speech to the Negro American Labor Council, 1961.

There are many instances in which Martin Luthor King Jr. described himself and his own philosophy as that of a Democratic socialist. A Democratic Socialist believes in forming broad coalitions of groups together to fight for the common goal of racial and economic justice for everyone so that everyone has certain rights. They believe in the right to a good education, a living wage, free medical coverage, labor unions, and eliminating poverty. Democratic socialists also believe in social ownership where the employees who produce the value of goods and services for their employers to sell have a seat at the table to discuss wages, health benefits, staff hiring, and more. In Germany in companies with over 2,000 employees 50% are required to be from trade unions on the board of directors.

“[W]e are saying that something is wrong … with capitalism…. There must be better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”
Speech to his staff, 1966.

They believe in accelerating and institutionalizing more progressive economic policies to ensure a more stable country. The Marshall Plan for instance called for universal healthcare, low-cost or tuition free college, funding infrastructure, recognizing labor unions, alleviating the divide among all socioeconomic groups, public-private pensions, and collective bargaining. Most of these concepts we implemented in Western Europe and seem to be working, we can apply some of those concepts to our own country so everyone has a leg up.

MLK Strongly Supported Unions

The third thing that is rarely discussed is that Dr. Martin Luthor King Jr. was a fierce advocate for labor unions. In fact, MLK’s advocacy for organized labor resulted in the unions providing the resources needed to fund the success of the civil rights movement. This eventually resulted in public pressure which led to the passage of the civil rights act and voting rights act.



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