A Vision For All; King's battle against injustice knew no barriers

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Detroit Free Press, Jan 16 2006
Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is not a black or white issue.

King was bigger than the racial walls he attempted to tear down. Remembering that may be the best way to honor his legacy on what would have been his 77th birthday.

King's commitment to bettering the whole of America is evident in the many speeches that will not be replayed again and again today, their relevance drowned out by the great oratory in his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech.

The battle for racial equality and tolerance does rage on, but King had much to teach America about economic equality and fair employment treatment as well.

One can be sure that, if he were alive, King would be calling for an end to urban violence. He would want an explanation and a solution for the 37 million Americans, including 13 million children, who live below the poverty line. He would demand assistance for the estimated 45 million Americans who live without health insurance. King would have been studying the issues and challenging lawmakers and society to act long before these problems became crises.

In his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," King wrote of his effort to rally
white jail guards. His famous sermon, "The Drum Major Instinct," urged people to fight against racism, economic exploitation and militarism as interrelated "triple evils." King called for a Bill of Rights of the Disadvantaged, and entreated Congress to turn the minimum wage into something that would actually earn a living.

"We know of no more crucial civil rights issue facing Congress today than the need to increase the federal minimum wage and extend its coverage," he said in 1966. "A living wage should be the right of all Americans."

Forty years later, America still waits for that dream, and a government committed enough to carry out the broad vision of equality for which Dr. King so bravely fought and so tragically died.