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HomeOpinionCommentary: 10 MLK Quotes Promoting Equal Rights, Diversity, and a Multicultural America 

Commentary: 10 MLK Quotes Promoting Equal Rights, Diversity, and a Multicultural America 

Jaivon Grant | California Black Media | January 16, 2023

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. was more than a social activist who, through his strong advocacy and rare brilliance, became America’s most celebrated symbol of racial justice and social progress. He was a symbol of unity, hope, and peace for people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

He was a gifted student, who enrolled in Atlanta’s Morehouse College at the age of 15, to study medicine and law.

But MLK had no intention of following the path others imagined for him, instead becoming a pastor.

Morehouse president Dr. Benjamin Mays, a strong advocate for racial equality and a renowned theologian, inspired him to join the ministry.

As we celebrate MLK Day — on what would have been his 94th birthday — it’s important to acknowledge what the inspirational civil rights leader did for communities across the United States who face(d) racial discrimination – even today.

Here are 10 quotes from across MLK’s life that represent what he stood for.

1. “I have a dream that one day, this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed… that all men are created equal.”

This quote is culled from perhaps his most memorable speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. While highlighting the racial injustices that Black Americans faced, MLK reminded the marchers that Jim Crow discrimination had ended legally — but not in practice. It had been nearly a century since the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, but Black Americans were far from being “free,” he proffered.

King advised that those leading the charge on civil rights not let “bitterness and hatred” let their movement “degenerate into physical violence.” He encouraged his followers not to see their White supporters as enemies because Americans from all backgrounds and races need to act in solidarity.

2. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

This is MLK’s call-to-action to take an active role against injustices that are faced in society. Being passive and hoping for the best is no way to fight a problem that will cause exponential damage to the unity that so many civil rights activists have fought to achieve today and onward.

3. “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

Every positive contribution — big or small — counts in the fight towards achieving equality. It’s easy to notice the bigger aspects of an object or idea and miss the smaller pieces that comprise them.

4. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

It takes true mental fortitude to establish trust with a perceived enemy. MLK was encouraging us to look past the negative things that people have done to us. It’s important to consider that even friends commit acts that you do not condone. Friendships are built on acceptance and succeed because of forgiveness between two parties. It is a nearly impossible feat without love in one’s heart.

5. “If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation.”

Constantly seeking revenge will inevitably lead to an endless downward spiral of destruction for all who are involved in that dynamic. Within the same speech, King noted that “violence ends by defeating itself.” Rather than destroying enemies, we should give them perspective and understanding.

6. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

When one offense is overlooked somewhere else in the world, it makes it possible for many other injustices to be swept under the rug — especially the ones that affect us directly. For example, it should not take losing a loved one to an act of violence for us to care about everyone’s right to living in a safe community.

7. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

This quote speaks for itself. Perseverance is tested through hardship, not times of peace — and this applies to all aspects of life. Will you be in the trenches when confronted by adversity?

8. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

King often spoke of having love in one’s heart. In his sermon –mirroring the light-driving-out-darkness metaphor — the civil rights icon expressed that only love could drive out hate. Loving your enemies is the only way to close the rift that separates (and in this case segregates) different racial and ethnic communities.

9. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Disappointment does not last forever. Eventually, it ends. Despite challenges one faces, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel — when hope is in the heart.

10. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

No matter how you do it, continue to grow and move towards progress. King preached that non-violence can be achieved. He encouraged his followers, and those who looked up to him, to not give up — press on, no matter how impossible the goal may seem. A little progress is better than none at all.

This California Black Media feature was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library.


Opinion: Why Every Californian Should Support the Prescription Drug Pricing Bill

By Dr. Oliver Brooks | Special to California Black Media Partners | May 17, 2022

Dr. Oliver Brooks

In 1992, the federal government enacted the 340B Drug Discount Program. It afforded community health centers (CHCs) the ability to provide pharmacy services to their patients, a service that many CHCs did not have the resources to provide otherwise.  

The program protects safety-net providers, including CHCs, from escalating drug prices, allowing us to purchase drugs at a discounted rate from manufacturers and pass those discounts directly to the patient. This program is presently under threat.  

That is why I support Dr. Richard Pan’s Senate Bill (SB) 939. This bill, currently being reviewed by the Senate Committee on Health, would prohibit discriminatory actions by drug manufacturers and administrators when providing 340B drugs to health centers and the patients they serve.  

It provides important consumer protections that are necessary to protect 340B savings and ensure that the savings remain with health centers and their communities, creating greater access to health care and equity for all.  

The 340B Program also allows safety-net providers the ability to accrue savings that must be reinvested directly into patient care and services. Thus, the program enables covered entities to stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.  

For 30 years CHCs have used those savings to provide free medications to patients experiencing homelessness, free transportation vouchers, free nutrition classes, and hire provider types (like community health workers) who are not billable within Medi-Cal.  

Today, there are over 1,300 health centers in California that provide care to 7.2 million people – that’s one in every five Californians and one in three Medi-Cal patients.  Additionally, 68% of CHC patients are from BIPOC communities. CHCs are often the only source of primary and preventative care for California’s most diverse communities, including those experiencing homelessness, immigrants, and agricultural workers.  

Anyone who walks into our health centers today can access a variety of services from primary care to dental to behavioral health care and a variety of wraparound services, regardless of whether they have health insurance, or an ability to pay for care. A large part of why we’re able to offer those services is thanks to savings we receive from the 340B program.  

In recent years the 340B program has been under assault by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), drug manufacturers, and others within big Pharma.  

Through the expansion of the Affordable Care Act & Medi-Cal, more low-income patients can access healthcare in California, meaning more are also able to access medications, causing the 340B program to expand. Given this fact, manufacturers have put practices in place that limit patient access to 340B priced drugs while PBMs focus on trying to take 340B savings away from CHCs, and out of the local communities that need them, threatening patient access to critical medicines made available through the program. 

Health centers were born out of the Civil Rights movement to ensure that all communities, particularly communities of color, would have access to high-quality care that is provided in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner. This program has allowed covered entities, including CHCs, to contract with local pharmacies so that our patients can access low-cost medications in a convenient manner. The continual acts of greed by pharmaceutical companies and PBMs threatens equity and access that CHCs were designed to create.  

Community health centers around the country are sounding the alarm over Rx drugs manufacturers’ attacks on the federal 340B program. Since 2019, 21 states have passed laws addressing PBM discrimination against 340B covered entities.  

It’s time for California, the policy trendsetter, to become the next state to protect the 340B program so it can operate as intended.  

That is why Dr. Richard Pan’s SB 939 is so important and why I so fervently speak in favor of this legislation.

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Felicia Roberts took an idea gathered a few people to reached into a minority community to highlight the positive, using a minority newspaper the Central Valley Voice. Roberts was joined by her sisters Carolyn Williams, Alleashia Thomas, niece Hermonie Lynn Williams, nephew Ron Williams, cousin Jerald Lester, Jay Slaffey, Greg Savage, Tim Daniels and the late J Denise Fontaine. Each individual played an important role in the birth of the newspapers. Since, then many have stood strong behind the success of the newspapers and its goal to fill a void in the Central Valley community. The Central Valley Voice published their 1st issue in November 1991. Its purposed was to highlight the achievements of minorities in the Central Valley. The Voice focuses on the accomplishments of African Americans and Hispanics giving young people role models while diminishing the stereotypical pictures of gangs, crime and violence that permeate the minority communities. Since 1991, the Central Valley Voice has provided an important voice for the minority community throughout the Madera, Merced. Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.
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