Martin Luther King Arrested

Martin Luther King, Jr. arrested in Montgomery, Alabama on September 4, 1958

Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fight for equality made their first appearance on television in 1957 on a program called, “The Open Mind,” hosted by Richard Heffner and (former judge) Waties Waring.

Here he discusses his approach to obtain equal rights:

I think it’s better to be aggressive at this point. It seems to me that it is both historically and sociologically true that privileged classes do not give up their privileges voluntarily and they do not give them up without strong resistance. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Human nature.  A learned behavior that can be unlearned.  But what does he mean about aggressiveness?

All of the gains made that we received in the area of civil rights have come about because the Negro stood up courageously for these rights and he was willing to aggressively press on. So I would think that it would be much better in the long run to stand up and be aggressive with understanding, good will and with a sense of discipline. Yet these things should not be substitutes for pressing on and with this aggressive attitude. I believe we will bring the gains or other civil rights into being much sooner than just standing idly by waiting for these things to be given voluntarily. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

How does this apply to veganism as an ethical philosophy?

From Mr. Waties Waring (around the two minute mark and continues until 4:00 or so)….

… It’s up to them to move out.  They haven’t got to go out with guns, and bombs, and bayonets.  But they have got to go out with the determination and courage and steadfastness like this man Luther King has done and say, “Here am I  and I stand here on my rights.”  And it’s gonna prevail, it’s got to prevail, and it can’t be beaten if we have enough of them who are steadfast enough.  When they begin to compromise and sell out on principle, then they are goneThat’s a matter of strategy is to keep a complete solid front. There maybe tactics as maybe you want to make bus cases first, or school cases or railroad cases or things of that kind- those are minor details.  But the strategy is you must never surrender any of the rights you have gained, and you must look forward to the attainment of full equality.

Unify.  Solid front.  Strategy for positive change.  Human Animal Rights.  Non-Human Animal Rights.  A unified people brings about change and freedom.  Change and Freedom.  Think of a world that is filled with compassion towards all beasts, man or otherwise.  One that recognizes the advancement of man can only truly come when we extend our lives beyond ourselves and our desires to embrace all life as important, vital, and sacred.

Dr. King forged a path towards freedom with sheer courage in a time when no one else had.  His message, his ideas- they were all thought to be controversial at the time.  Right now in the world, at this very moment in history, some people still believe that veganism is radical.  Our idea, our message, our advocacy on behalf of those who cannot is at a similar place, right now.  It’s time to unify our strategy for positive change and present a solid front that does not compromise our ethics. Even if that means you make some people mad when you tell them that no, honey is not vegan (because it’s not).

Change can come, history has proven that over and over, when the oppressed group remains steadfast.  Will you?

Fundamental tenets of Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence described in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom.


(1.) Nonviolence is not passive, but requires courage;
(2.) Nonviolence seeks reconciliation, not defeat of an adversary;
(3.) Nonviolent action is directed at eliminating evil, not destroying an evil-doer;
(4.) A willingness to accept suffering for the cause, if necessary, but never to inflict it;
(5.) A rejection of hatred, animosity or violence of the spirit, as well as refusal to commit physical violence; and
(6.) Faith that justice will prevail.

A sequential process of nonviolent conflict-resolution and social change based on Dr. King’s teachings. The Six Steps of Nonviolence developed by The King Center include:
(1.) Information gathering and research to get the facts straight;
(2.) Education of adversaries and the public about the facts of the dispute;
(3.) Personal Commitment to nonviolent attitudes and action;
(4.) Negotiation with adversary in a spirit of goodwill to correct injustice;
(5.)Nonviolent direct action, such as marches, boycotts, mass demonstrations, picketing, sit-ins etc., to help persuade or compel adversary to work toward dispute-resolution;
(6.) Reconciliation of adversaries in a win-win outcome in establishing a sense of community.