Ever since 1986, the United States has acknowledged the legacy of Civil Rights proponent Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday, on the third Monday of each January. Being born on Jan. 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Ga., he’d go on to help create a whole new existence for African Americans by the time he was a young adult. The courageous Baptist minister’s impact continued even after he was martyred on April 4, 1968.

Although he will eternally be linked to non-violence, it must also be noted that during the latter stage of his life the passive preacher was unveiling the vast disparities between the country’s main two ethnic groups, while also advocating for more progressive action to be taken by his people. Doing so, he revealed the oppressive system of capitalism, as well as the military industrial complex.

Although it wasn’t the first time he addressed this topic, on March 14 1968––just weeks prior to being assassinated––while delivering his “A riot is the language of the unheard: the other America” dissertation at Michigan’s Grose Point North High School, he questions “What is it that America has failed to hear?” before answering, “It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the past few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. It has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity.”

He goes on sharing his assessment on the U.S.’ unpaid promises to its formerly enslaved citizens, and the effect it was causing then: “So in a real sense our summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. As long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

On numerous occasions he addressed America’s triple evils: economic exploitation, militarism and overt racism, causing civilians to question the system of capitalism, as well as inquire about reparations.

“A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution,” from King’s book “Why We Can’t Wait.”

Racism, the original American sin born from the enslavement of Africans and the genocide of indigenous peoples, reached such a consensus that it had to end.

As “white America” embraces him, some contend that Dr. King’s holyday has been diluted. Rather than people focusing on continuing the progress he attained, many are content to assimilate with their former oppressors instead of building up their own communities. Dr. King helped the U.S. somewhat separate itself from its slave/segregation legacy. However, half-a-century later the “triplet of evils still exist.” His radical critique helped push the envelope, forcing this country to confront the elephant in the room.