“…We are coming to get our check!”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Excerpt of a 1967 Speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

So we suffer from a kind of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The problem is, my friends, that we have learned to fly the air like birds, and we have learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the earth like brothers and sisters.

Racial injustice is still the Black man’s burden, and a white man’s shame. So wherever we live in America, we have to face the fact honestly that racial discrimination is present. So don’t get complacent.

Certainly, we’ve made some strides. We made some progress here and there. But it haven’t been enough. It hadn’t been fast enough. Although we’ve come a long, long way, we still have a long, long way to go.

In 1863, the Negro was freed from the bondage of physical slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln. But the Negro was not given any land to make that freedom meaningful. And you know it was something like having a man in jail for years and years, and then you suddenly discover that this man is innocent.

You go to him and say, “Now you are free.” A man been unjustly jailed for 35 or 40 years and you just put him out of jail saying, “Now you are free.” Don’t give him any bus fare to get the town, no money to buy any clothes, no money to get something to eat.

This is what happened to the Black man in this country. I can’t limit my concern to the middle class. I can’t limit my concern to this particular situation where a Negro comes and says “I’m the first this…” I’m just tired of the first Negro, I want some seconds, and some thirds, and some fourths.

The civil rights movement has to address itself to this, and the nation has to do it. You see, we are such a rich nation and affluent nation. We often don’t see the poor.

There are some, you see, most white people can’t see the poor because they live in the suburbs. And then they get in town and these big cities are expressways. They don’t know nothing about Watts, they’ve never been there. They don’t know anything about Hough in Cleveland on the westside of the southside of Chicago or Harlem. They’d never seen it. And they allow the poor to become invisible.

And a lot of Negroes, you know, who have somehow sailed or floated out of the back waters or the muddy waters, and they’ve kind of been able to ease out into the fresh flowing waters of the mainstream have forgotten the stench of the back waters.

I can hear a voice saying, “That wasn’t enough. I was hungry and you fed me not. I was naked and it clothed me not. I needed Shelton, you didn’t give it to me. I needed a drink of water, and in a world full of free water, you made me pay a water bill.”

Excerpt of a 1968 Speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the very same time America refused to give the Negro any land, through an act of Congress, our government was giving away millions of acres of land…not only did they give the land they built land grant colleges with government money to teach them how to farm.

Not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming.

Not only that, they provided low interest rates in order that they could mechanize their farms

Not only that, today many of these people are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies not to farm, and they are the very people telling the Black man that he needs to lift himself up by his own boot straps.

This is what we are faced with! This is the reality!

Now when we come to Washington in this campaign, we are coming to get our check!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 before he reached our country’s capital in Washington, DC to demand the reparations check for Black people.

Rest in power Dr. King. We are continuing your courageous fight for social and economic justice for Black people.

Sources: Thom Hartmann Program and The Root YouTube channels.