The remarkable thing about this annual review of King's life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.
Why? It's because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.
But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" — including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.
By 1967, King had also become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 — a year to the day before he was murdered — King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."
From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King questioned "our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America," and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World, instead of supporting them.
In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries."
A vegan lifestyle honors Martin Luther King, Jr. by Virginia Messina Published Jan 16 2012 at examiner.com
In 1843, Bronson Alcott, father of Little Women author Louisa May Alcott, moved his family to a country farm and set out to build a utopian community. Alcott was an avid anti-slavery abolitionist and a vegan. The family wore only linen because cotton was the product of human slavery and wool was stolen from sheep.
The experiment was a dismal failure, later parodied in Louisa’s novelette Transcendental Wild Oats. But Bronson Alcott is remembered by many as one who recognized the wide scope of injustice in his world. It made no sense to him to campaign against human slavery while consuming the meat or milk of enslaved animals.
Alcott was just one of the scores of people who have spoken out in big and small ways against injustice over the centuries. And today we honor a man whose voice for justice was the most courageous and insightful of the 20th century.
We can’t help but wonder: Would the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. have become a vegan at some point in his life? It’s certainly conceivable that he would have. His son Dexter Scott King, who is president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-violent Social Change, has been vegan for more than 20 years. He once said that vegetarianism is the logical extension of his father’s philosophy regarding non-violence. Coretta Scott King, a tireless activist for social justice, was also a vegan for more than ten years before her death in 2006.
If his wife and son saw the link between animal foods and violence, it’s not hard to imagine that Dr. King would have perceived this connection as well. Writing from the Birmingham jail in 1963, he said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
On the King Center website, Coretta Scott King wrote that, while we remember Dr. King himself today, it is also a day that commemorates “the timeless values he taught us through his example—the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service…”
A commitment to veganism honors the principles that were at the core of Dr. King’s work.
London After Midnight / Sean Brennan