Bending the Arc Toward Justice

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. often said that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. Dr. King had a broad and nuanced vision of what justice meant. We all know about his struggles for racial justice and that he spoke out against violence and war, winning a Nobel Peace for nonviolence in 1964, but Dr. King also clearly saw how poverty and the abuse of worker's rights, along with discrimination and violence were tightly intertwined.

Since Dr. King's death until very recently, progress has been made in each of these battles, but over the past few years, much ground has been lost as more and more people slip into poverty and homelessness, two wars raged and hundreds of thousands violently died in our own streets.

As we end these two military wars, we are beginning another type. The battle over deficit reduction and budget balancing is heating up (it's already pretty hot), but it's turning into a war on the poor of all colors, not on poverty.

In the clamor over manufactured “fiscal cliffs,” the inequality that King fought against and that the Occupy movement reminded us about last year, seems in danger of being forgotten again by all but a few of the true believers-among them, our readers, who carry on the work daily.

In 2008, Barack Obama said: “Dr. King once said that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. It bends towards justice, but here is the thing: it does not bend on its own. It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and we bend it in the direction of justice….”

We hope you are getting a well-deserved moment of rest today, and some inspiration as we continue to bend that long arc toward justice.

Photo from UIC Ditigal Collections, CC BY-NC-ND.

Shelterforce is the only independent, non-academic publication covering the worlds of community development, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.