For Dr. King, basic civil rights went well past freedom, equality, and the end of racial segregation. He was particularly adamant about environmental justice – that everyone has the right to clean air, water, and soil, as well as a right to live in healthy and nurturing natural environments. He believed that urban planning, parks and recreation, schools and education, and democratic decision making are all important civil rights issues. In essence, fair treatment of a person’s environment is tantamount to fair and equal treatment of that person. One cannot be true without the other.
This idea is universal, that all things are equal and important. Take this quote by the great naturalist John Muir. “ When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”
“You go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American . . . or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world.” –
Dr. Martin Luther King – 1967 Christmas sermon on peace.
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