“The issue is injustice,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his final speech. “The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers.”
That was 1968. Here in 2011, of course, we honor Dr. King with a national holiday and shake our heads sadly when remembering those dark days of the past in which public workers and public workers unions were demonized by shameless politicians seeking scapegoats for their own failures.
It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preachers must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.