Rising In Honor of MLK

The Rise for Animals Team, January 17, 2024

The great social justice champion Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) is not known to have openly advocated for animal rights, and, indeed, the following quote’s common attribution to him cannot be verified

“One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.”

Yet, even if we cannot prove that MLK explicitly included other-than-human animals in his advocacy, his family confirms that he certainly *could* have. 

Not only did MLK’s wife, Coretta Scott King, and one of his sons, Dexter King, openly adopt ethical veganism in the 1990’s and 1980’s, respectively, but they have described the vegan philosophy and way of living as a “logical extension of Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence and justice.” 

And they’re right: the manifestation of nonviolence and the realization of justice do require the rejection of all forms of discrimination. 

Vis-a-vis intersectionality, the modern social justice movement educates us that all forms of discrimination and oppression are interconnected and that, to fight any, we must fight all.

This, of course, holds true for racism and speciesism, with scholars evidencing how the latter provided the foundation for and directly gave rise to the former. 

Point in fact: “[s]lavery emerged in the same region of the Middle East that spawned agriculture and developed as an extension of animal domestication practices”, with the “criterion created to exclude animals from the human community [] also [being] used to ostracize people of color….”

Expounds Steve Best: 

“[S]pecieism was the first form of hierarchy and domination, and laid the groundwork for other forms of oppression, power, and violence . . . The discourse, logic, and methods of dehumanization were [] derived from the human domination over animals, as speciesism, in turn, provided the conceptual paradigm that encouraged, sustained, and justified the domination and slaughter of numerous group[s] and types of humans that did not fit the rationalist, patriarchal model.” 

It follows that, by rejecting speciesism, we reject racism, we embrace an ethic of non-violence, and we champion justice.

We honor the late MLK, whose vision continues to guide and inspire all of us who dream of a world steeped in equality and peace for all.

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