Martin Luther King Jr.? Apocryphal?
Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.
A writer at “The Huffington Post” website attempted to trace this quotation and obtained first-hand testimony from an attendee at a human rights convention in 1966 who stated that King did make this remark, but King used the word “inhuman” instead of ‘inhumane”. 1 Would you please explore this topic? Perhaps contemporaneous documentary evidence can be located.
Quote Investigator: There is substantive evidence that Martin Luther King Jr. did make a statement that was nearly identical to the modern version given above. On Saturday, March 26, 1966 multiple newspapers published an article from the Associated Press (AP) newsgathering organization about a press conference held in Chicago on the night of Friday, March 25. The annual meeting of the Medical Committee for Human Rights was being held, and King spoke to journalists before he was scheduled to deliver an address to conference attendees. King’s theme was the disparate medical care received by blacks. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 2 3
“We are concerned about the constant use of federal funds to support this most notorious expression of segregation. Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.
“I see no alternative to direct action and creative nonviolence to raise the conscience of the nation.”
Modern renditions of the quotation contain the terms “health care” or “healthcare”, but the concurrent AP report indicated that King simply said “health”. Also, King used the word “inhuman” instead of “inhumane” according to the AP.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- Website: The Huffington Post, Article title: Tracking Down Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Words on Health Care, Article Author: Amanda Moore (Staff attorney-legal editor, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law), Timestamp on website: January 18, 2013 4:00 pm EST, Timestamp of update on website: March 20, 2013 5:12 am EDT, Website description: News, blogs and original content offering coverage of politics, entertainment, style, world news, technology and comedy. (Accessed huffingtonpost.com on October 22, 2015) link ↩
- 1966 March 26, Mt. Vernon Register News, King Charges Negro Medical Care Inferior (Associated Press), Quote Page 5, Column 3, Mt. Vernon, Illinois. (NewspaperArchive) ↩
- 1966 March 26, Racine Journal Times, Dr. King Bitterly Flays Health Care Given Negroes (Associated Press), Quote Page 2B, Column 5 and 6, Racine, Wisconsin. (NewspaperArchive) ↩