Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paved the way for every subsequent generation to fight social injustice and stand up for the oppressed with peaceful protests and brotherly love. So what better way could there be to honor his legacy than by doing away with our personal prejudices?
King is, of course, best known for his work to end racism. But his acceptance of and love for others went far deeper than skin color. One of King’s closest mentors, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, was gay—and keep in mind, it was still the early 1960s. Before King was assassinated, he had begun to broaden his base to advocate for all socially disadvantaged people.
And carrying his torch, his widow, Coretta Scott King, son Dexter Scott King, and friend Rosa Parks went on to embrace other disadvantaged species: animals who are abused and killed for food. Parks went vegetarian, and King’s widow and son went vegan.
Researchers have long held that there is a direct link between speciesism and all other forms of discrimination. Just as African-Americans, Jews, women, the impoverished, the LGBT community, and many other groups of people have been devalued and subjected to ridicule, abuse, and denial of rights, so other species are treated in horrible ways.
The billions of cows, pigs, chickens, fish, and other sentient beings who are routinely subjugated, tormented, and slaughtered for food every year are viewed by the factory-farming industry as nothing more than meat-producing mechanisms on their way to plates.
But many respected leaders, humanitarians, and celebrities are turning their backs on speciesism and embracing conscientious eating, including Russell Simmons, Angela Simmons, Bill Clinton, Usher, Cesar Chávez, Dennis Kucinich, Ne-Yo, Paul McCartney, and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Perhaps King described it best when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We cannot hope for the rest of the world to be free of discrimination and social injustice until we rid ourselves of the prejudices we are still holding onto. PETA offers a wealth of free resources for everyone who wishes to celebrate Dr. King’s nonviolent message three times a day.