Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a tireless champion of the social underdog in our society. He had launched a poor people's movement and was advocating for garbage workers when he was shot in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. Just two years earlier in 1966, he took a stand against complacency and issued this challenge while speaking at Illinois Wesleyan University.
He said: "I must honestly say to you that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination; I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry; I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, and leave men by the thousands and the millions smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; I must honestly say to you that I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism and the self defeating effects of physical violence, it is no longer a choice between violence and non-violence; it is either non- violence or non-existence. And so I say that maybe our world is in dire need of a new organization, the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment."
Now we don't have an IAACM in town or on campus, but we do have many IAACM type organizations and clubs. The first step in taking a stand against complacency is to think critically about what social justice means. Then find an organization that furthers your understanding of social justice and start building our democracy.
From left to right, Community member Willie Brown,
Speaker Ed Yohnka, and Professor Vernon Burton at the 2015