For years I've been uncomfortable on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. I brace myself to hear people in the news media zero in on just one aspect of Dr. King's life: The "I Have a Dream" speech. Hands down, it is one of the greatest speeches ever spoken, and it's message resonates still. But too often, I've felt that Dr. King's words have been used by people who lock onto snippets of what he said ("the content of their character" lovers) without taking in completely everything that he said (and experienced) before and after August 28, 1963. To do that would require people to think of unpleasant aspects of our collective recent American past, and it is clear that there are many, many people who are more than ready to avoid those recollections (but we still have "the content of their character" line from the speech).
I decided that I wanted to get a quick refresher on the Poor People's Campaign that Dr. King was in the process of launching toward the end of his life. As I read the purported goals of the campaign, a guaranteed annual income, full employment, and such (all with federal help), I was confident that many of "the content of our character" lovers were either unfamiliar with this aspect of Dr. King's legacy, or they choose to ignore it, and many would certainly be fully against such goals. Yet, just as Dr. King had that dream in August of '63, he had other dreams.
Dr. King's entire legacy is important for all of us to learn, not just catch phrases.