Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. - Food for Thought

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 6 years old.
Rev. Martin Luther King, head-and-shoulders portrait, seated, facing front, hands extended upward, during a press conference (World Telegram & Sun photo by Dick DeMarsico )

This year would have been Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 88th birthday. It is also the 52st anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March. To honor the memory of the iconic civil rights leader and Nobel Peace prize winner here are quotes in which he expresses thoughts about hunger, poverty and food injustice.

After winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 through his work to end racial segregation and discrimination through civil disobedience and other nonviolent methodology his focus shifted towards opposing the Vietnam War and alleviating poverty.

"The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.

"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."
Acceptance Speech at Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, December 10, 1964

"Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another's flesh."
Why We Can't Wait, 1963.

"I started thinking about the fact that no matter how long an old Negro woman had been shopping downtown and got a little tired and needed to get a hamburger or a cup of coffee at a lunch counter, she couldn’t get it there."
The American Dream" delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, July 4, 1965.

"So yes, the dream has been shattered, (Amen) and I have had my nightmarish experiences, but I tell you this morning once more that I haven’t lost the faith. (No, sir) I still have a dream (A dream, Yes, sir) that one day all of God’s children will have food and clothing and material well-being for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, and freedom for their spirits. (Yes)"
The American Dream" delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, July 4, 1965.

"Let us march on poverty (Let us march) until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat. (Yes, sir) March on poverty (Let us march) until no starved man walks the streets of our cities and towns (Yes, sir) in search of jobs that do not exist. (Yes, sir) Let us march on poverty (Let us march) until wrinkled stomachs in Mississippi are filled, (That's right) and the idle industries of Appalachia are realized and revitalized, and broken lives in sweltering ghettos are mended and remolded."
Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March, March 25, 1965

"There is another thing closely related to racism that I would like to mention as another challenge. We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world. Two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry tonight. They are ill-housed; they are ill-nourished; they are shabbily clad. I’ve seen it in Latin America; I’ve seen it in Africa; I’ve seen this poverty in Asia."

"As I noticed these things, something within me cried out, 'Can we in America stand idly by and not be concerned?' And an answer came: 'Oh no!' Because the destiny of the United States is tied up with the destiny of India and every other nation. And I started thinking of the fact that we spend in America millions of dollars a day to store surplus food, and I said to myself, 'I know where we can store that food free of charge—in the wrinkled stomachs of millions of God’s children all over the world who go to bed hungry at night.' And maybe we spend far too much of our national budget establishing military bases around the world rather than bases of genuine concern and understanding."
Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution" Delivered at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., March 31, 1968.

"If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)

    I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes)
    I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.
    I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen)
    I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes)
    And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes)
    I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord)
    I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)"

“The Drum Major Instinct" February 4, 1968

RIP Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Post was originally published 1/15/11 and has been updated for accuracy