Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebrated his 39th and last birthday working at Ebenezer Baptist Church. He had breakfast at home with his family that morning and went to the church around 9 a.m.

Dr. King did not have the luxury of taking off a day to rest or reflect on that birthday. His work for human rights was not limited to civil rights for African-Americans. His poor people’s campaign was an inclusive movement for poor people of all races in America and around the world.

In his last year of life, Dr. King had become more vocal against what he called the three evils of society. In a speech he gave in August 1967, he listed the three evils as racism, excessive materialism and militarism.

We are still dealing with those three evils today. If you read the transcript of King’s speech on the three evils of society or listen to his speech on YouTube, it is hard to believe it was given more than 50 years ago. Many of his points and arguments could be made today.

A report by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in 2017 states that the United States spends more on national defense ($611 billion) than the next eight countries combined ($595 billion).

How would Dr. King feel about increasing the national defense budget while reducing Pell grant funds and making it harder for poor students to qualify for a Pell grant? Pell grants are a hand up, and not a hand out, to students trying to improve their lives.

How would Dr. King feel about the poor people in Flint, Mich., and in Niger? What would he say about our country being $20 trillion in debt and passing that obligation down to our children, grandchildren and children not yet born?

If Dr. King were still living today what would his birthday wish be in 2018? I think he would wish for supporters of his dream to be more proactive in the fight against the three evils of society.

As I was growing up, I thought of Dr. King as a passive individual and, like many others, I had him frozen in time, giving his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. His nonviolent protests were far from passive.

At 1 p.m. Monday at Greater St. Matthews Baptist Church, 6333 state Highway 6, in Hitchcock, we will be discussing a plan of action for the next 50 years for positive change. Dr. Virgil Wood, a friend of Dr. King’s, will be our special guest, and we invite the Galveston County community to join us for a substantive discussion of “Where do we go from here?” — a question that Dr. King asked in 1967.

I want to leave you with a quote from Dr. King: “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”

Samuel Collins III lives in Hitchcock.


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