Here is a great article on Martin Luther King Jr. :
On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the Lincoln Memorial and admonished America to return to its First Principles. In his I Have a Dream Speech, he announced his dream that “one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” He longed to see a day when all “would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’” Dr. King did not talk about remaking America. His dream was one which, in his words, was “deeply rooted in the American dream.” It hearkened back to the principles upon which our country was founded. It was not a rejection of our past, but a vision of hope based on the principles of our past.
Dr. King held firm to the truths of the Declaration of Independence in a time when the situation of African Americans appeared hopeless. Based on a series of arbitrary and unjust policies, African Americans were denied basic protections of the rule of law. Segregation prevented access to public accommodations, and many were reduced to poverty as a result of these injustices. Dr. King did not ask African Americans to be satisfied with their condition, nor did he denounce America as an unjust nation. Instead, Dr. King assured his listeners that their circumstances were contrary to America’s creed. He used the central principle of the Declaration – natural human equality – as a rallying cry for civil rights.
Dr. King held that the principle of human equality is the foundation of the Declaration’s statement of natural rights. We are all equal because we all participate in a common human nature. Since we are all equal, we are all entitled to the basic rights that are derived from human nature. From these First Principles, Dr. King understood that all Americans—regardless of skin color—should have access to the rule of law, public accommodations, and thereby have the ability to pursue economic opportunities and, ultimately, happiness.
But Dr. King did not think that the principle of equality meant that everyone should be treated the same. He sought equality of rights and equality before the law, not equality of outcomes or equality as a result. For Dr. King, justice was when a person is judged “by the content of their character” rather than by arbitrary considerations such as skin color. Dr. King did not mean that we should treat people of good character and bad character the same. Actual equality is achieved when arbitrary standards are replaced by meaningful criteria such as talent and virtue. A just country, in Dr. King’s vision, is one in which people are rewarded for acting well.
As Americans, we should take this lesson from Martin Luther King Jr. to heart: we should look to our First Principles to guide us through our current political problems. In his latest book, We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future, Matthew Spalding articulates ten core principles of America that define our national creed and explain our common purpose: These principles are equality, natural rights, consent of the governed, religious liberty, private property, rule of law, constitutionalism, self governmentand independence. Spalding writes:
"Only when we know these principles once again can we renew America. Only when we understand the significance of these principles can we grasp the nobility of our accomplishments as a people and see how far we have strayed off our course as a nation. Only then can we realize the societal choices before us and begin to develop a strategy to reclaim our future."
Here are a few speeches, an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.'s book, and two videos that I found interesting today as I surfed the net.
Nobel Peace Prize Speech, Oslo, Dec. 10, 1964
“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up.”
• • •
Remarks at a rally on July 2, 1965, sponsored by the Virginia branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Petersburg, Va.
“I’m not going to sit by and see war escalated without saying anything about it. … We’re not going to defeat Communism with bombs and guns and gases. We can never accept Communism. We must work this out in the framework of our democracy.”
Speech in support of striking sanitation workers, Memphis, Tenn., April 3, 1968.
“Now the other thing we’ll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people, individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively, that means all of us together, collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it.
“We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles, we don’t need any Molotov cocktails, we just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, ‘God sent us here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right.’...
“Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.”
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies
hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction
of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.