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Alveda King's Dangerous PayDay Loan

Written by Pamela Merritt for - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

I know several people who were at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom August 28, 1963.  I’ve held buttons in my hand that were exchanged on the Mall that day, passed from one person to another documenting how people came from all over the nation to gather and advocate for justice.  And I know that so many of the rights I enjoy today were earned through the blood, sweat and tears of those regular folk and the brave people who organized their activism.  A lot of people focus on the speeches made 47 years ago on the Mall, but I have always been inspired by the pictures of the crowd that capture the faces of the people who made the movement possible.

I watched some of the coverage of Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally this past weekend and I heard Dr. Alveda King speak.  Dr. Alveda King is the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and an anti-choice activist with Priests for Life.  She referred to the speech her uncle made that day, specifically to his statement about America giving black people a “bad check.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said:

"In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men - would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'"

Forty-seven years later to the day, King’s niece Alveda King said, “When will we know that the check Uncle Martin spoke of is good? We will know when prayer is once again welcome in the public squares of America and in our schools.”


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