By Jeff Mackey
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent message is as relevant today as it was during his lifetime. Although this is the day officially set aside each year to pay tribute to his legacy, we can pay tribute to Dr. King every day by opposing discrimination against anyone, including animals. Whenever we speak up against the oppression of animals who are suffering in circuses, in backyards, in laboratories, and on factory farms, we honor his commitment to social justice.
The animal rights movement draws inspiration from—and is an obvious successor to—the civil rights movement. In fact, Dr. King's inspiration for nonviolent action was Mohandas Gandhi, who was an animal advocate and ethical vegetarian, and animal rights issues have been important to Dr. King's family members, including his widow, the late Coretta Scott King, who adopted a vegan diet, as has their son,Dexter Scott King.
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Today, and every day, countless opportunities exist to bring about a more just world, whether by volunteering at a local animal shelter or helping underprivileged or elderly neighbors care for their animal companions. But the underlying principle behind Dr. King's teachings about the proper response to injustice is never to be silent.