This is the Martin Luther King that most people know, a man and his mission largely seen as history.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
Few realize that on that day on which he was killed he was on his next mission; the Poor People's Campaign. It was why he was in Memphis. He was there to seek better working conditions for the City's working poor - Sanitation workers, guys who pick up the garbage.
With Selma and the voting rights bill one era of our struggle came to a close and a new era came into being. Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know that it isn’t enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough money to buy a hamburger and cup of coffee?
Economic equality for the working poor, including Appalachian Americans, Native Americans. The struggle continues. And Martin Luther King's work, and sacrifice is important today as it was 50 years ago. Economic inequality is as great today as it was then. The struggle continues.