Celebrating #MLKDay: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Fight against Stigma

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Today we celebrate the birth of a great American, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

King’s famous quote which rang out at the 1963 March on Washington before hundreds of thousands of people, gives deep meaning to the toxicity of prejudice, and its close cousin, stigma. The “content of a person‘s character,” their essential and common humanity, only that is how we must judge people. This goes for all people including those recovering from the diseases of substance use disorder and mental health issues.

Recovery is a hard fight, where connection, support and empathy from family and community are crucial, and where facing a pernicious stigma only makes things much harder.

Indeed, King’s philosophy of nonviolent action has been described as “radical empathy.” His dream of social justice surely can be extended to people in recovery. We think Dr. King, no stranger to depression and psychic crisis, would agree, were he alive today.