By Warren J. Blumenfeld
There can be no justice without peace,
and there can be no peace without justice.
Peace activist and Civil Rights leader, Dr. King chanted this statement outside a California prison, which was holding Vietnam War protesters on December 14, 1967. In his commitment and passion for justice, and in his inimical and profound way, he understood several connecting strands:
"I see these two struggles as one struggle".
By fighting a war King argued "against the self-determination of the Vietnamese people," he realized that his country, the United States of America, had been proliferating injustice. While fighting for the civil and human rights of people in his home nation without opposing what King believed to be the clear exploitation of the Vietnamese people would have contradicted his declaration that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Coretta Scott King, in her plenary address in Atlanta, Georgia in 2000, remarked at the National LGBTQ Task Force Creating Change Conference:
"My husband, Martin Luther King Jr., once said, "We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny...an inescapable network of mutuality. ... I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be. Therefore, I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."
Dr. King is one of literally countless social justice activists, known and unrecognized throughout the ages across our remarkable planet. They have placed their values and their very lives on the line to ensure a better, more peaceful, and equitable world for themselves and their descendants.
They work for a world highlighted by a more level playing field between people of every identity and background, and one where a safety net catches people who have hit tough times and people with limited abilities to meet their needs.
Because of their courageous dedication to the concept of fairness and justice in the relationship between the individual and the state and between states, in their devotion to obliterating the barriers of social mobility by working actively for equality of opportunity and economic justice, they have given us so much.
But as we know, the struggle for social justice is ongoing, for the journey must continue before we collectively reach our ultimate destination.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attempted to remind us of this fact:
"[A]ll life is interrelated . . . Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly . . . This is the interrelated structure of reality."
Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of The What, the So What, and the Now What of Social Justice Education (Peter Lang Publishers), and Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) andInvestigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).