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Happy MLK Day: Martin Luther King’s best health care quotes

In honor of Dr. King’s birthday, we wanted to share some quotes from his speeches and writing that we feel are especially relevant to health care.  

“When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast with a scientific and technological abundance. We’ve learned to fly the air as birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas as fish, yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Perhaps no part of our society shows “the glaring contrast” King is talking about better than our health care system. We have the technology to ease suffering and cure disease in ways past generations never dreamed, but we still haven’t ensured that all people have access to even basic care.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” — MLK. in a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights, 1966

The Affordable Care Act was a good step towards a more just U.S. health care system. We believe King would have approved of much of the new law, which dramatically improves access to care for the poor and people of color.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

Some of us were disappointed that health reform didn’t go further– it wasn’t single payer, it didn’t include a public option, and by excluding illegal immigrants it won’t provide truly universal coverage. But it was progress. As President Obama has pointed out, King didn’t suggest the Civil Rights Act would end all discrimination, but he still supported it: “Let’s take a victory, he said, and then keep on marching.”

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” –MLK, Letter from a Birmingham Jail

King was talking about civil rights in this letter, but it’s also a pretty good argument for health care for all.

And finally, since they tend to play the same handful of clips every MLK Day, here are ten OTHER things Martin Luther King said:

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