Why We Can’t Wait
by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)
Written from his jail cell following his arrest for protesting segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr. shares his reflections on the moral situation of America.
Dr. King writes as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the US, advocating for the equal rights and recognition of African-Americans in the 1960s. Sadly, the racial divide and glaring inequality has yet to be rectified some 50 years later (see Black Lives Matter).
Progress has been made to be sure, and we must celebrate the wins, but there is still so much to do. He said as much then, and it’s still applicable today. You can’t simply wait for things to get sorted out, but rather be an active participate in your life and your world. It is the same for the climate crisis. It requires participation and collective action.
Righting the Wrongs
It is apparent that social justice and environmental justice are closely intertwined. We cannot separate one from the other, and indeed, we need to solve both in order to make progress and achieve out goals of a safer, more just society. That’s where Dr. King comes in.
His wisdom is relevant to both the Social Justice Movements as well as the Environmental Justice Movement. Dr. King’s clarity, insight, and encouragement still speak to those who fight for these ideals. His words remind us that, while we can welcome each milestone achieved, we shouldn’t settle until we’ve reached our goal. And we need it to happen with serious urgency.
Applying Dr. King’s Urgency
In case anyone was still wondering why I would include Martin Luther King, Jr. as recommended reading for the sustainability movement, I gathered some resources below highlighting the profound connection between social justice and climate justice. Together, we can make it a safer, more equitable place for all.
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Environmental & Climate Justice (NAACP)
No, Climate Action Can’t Be Separated from Social Justice (The Guardian)
Social Justice and Climate Justice Must Go Hand in Hand in Hand (Rethinking Poverty)
Racism Derails Our Attempts To Save the Planet (Washington Post)
The Environmental Justice Wake-Up Call (New York Times)
The Link Between Climate Change and Racial Justice (Climate Analytics)