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President Obama: Martin Luther King, Jr. Would Have Challenged “excesses of Wall Street”

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At this moment, when our politics appear so sharply polarized, and faith in our institutions so greatly diminished, we need more than ever to take heed of Dr. King’s teachings…we have a duty to fight against poverty even if we are well off…

…If [Martin Luther King Jr.] were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there; that the businessman can enter tough negotiations with his company’s union without vilifying the right to collectively bargain. He would want us to know we can argue fiercely about the proper size and role of government without questioning each other’s love for this country – (applause) – with the knowledge that in this democracy, government is no distant object but is rather an expression of our common commitments to one another. He would call on us to assume the best in each other rather than the worst, and challenge one another in ways that ultimately heal rather than wound.

All so true, as Martin Luther King, Jr. was “an impassioned advocate of economic justice as well as social justice” (according to his son, writing in today’s Washington Post), in addition to full equality for all Americans. I just wish he were alive today, as I’m confident that he’d be fighting with for progress and against reactionaries, bigots, and demagogues, as he always did in his life. Thank you, Dr. King.